Integrated Resort Initiative in Wakayama Proceeds as Referendum Rejected

Integrated Resort Initiative in Wakayama Proceeds as Referendum Rejected

It’s likely a battle that isn’t over, but Japan’s Wakayama city council has drawn the line in the sand. It has voted against allowing a referendum to decide whether or not the city and prefecture should pursue plans for an integrated resort (IR). According to GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent, the referendum bid, which was made as an ordinance, resulted in a 28-9 vote on the 38-member council.

Wakayama Keeps IR Dreams Alive

Earlier this month, opponents of the IR in Wakayama submitted a petition calling for a public vote. The petition gathered well over the required number of signatures and forced the local government to respond.

Between January 24 and 27, a special session of the council was held. It included a vote and a debate on the referendum topic. Masahiro Obana, Wakayama’s mayor and a supporter of the integrated resort (IR), had submitted an opinion to the council stating that he opposed the referendum idea.

He stated that there is already a formal process to allow a vote regarding Wakayama prefecture’s IR District Development Plan relating to the casino resort proposal. A referendum would also be costly for the city, according to the mayor.

Wakayama’s anti-casino group claimed that it had received enough petition signatures in November from local voters to be able to ask the government to hold a referendum on whether Wakayama should host a casino resort.

Wakayama Finalizing IR Details

Clairvest Neem Ventures has been chosen as the partner in the creation of a Wakayama casino resort. Caesars Entertainment had indicated in September that it would be a partner in the Clairvest Neem Ventures consortium.

The details of the project have not been announced by the local authorities. A representative of Wakayama from Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, Yoshinobu Nisaka, urged Yoshinobu to halt the opening of community consultation about Wakayama’s IR District Development Plan. He wanted to wait until the details of the project consortium were made public and how they will be funded.

On October 1 of last year, the Japanese government opened the application period to local authorities for hosting a casino resort in the country. It also announced the weighting it would give for such requests. The deadline for applications is April 28.

Nationally, three resorts are allowed under Japan’s IR program. Currently, three regions are eligible to host large-scale IR. These are Osaka, Nagasaki and Wakayama. Late last year, a fourth, Kuwana, expressed interest. However, it arrived too late, and no updates have been provided since then.