Nagasaki Prefecture Dismisses Anti-Casino Group’s IR Audit Request
- The audit committee said there was no need for it to intervene in Nagasaki’s fund raising campaign
- There were no irregularities in the consultancy payment amounting to JPY110 million
- An anti-casino group in Osaka has also failed in its proposal for a local referendum
In June, a civil group opposing Nagasaki’s integrated resort (IR) proposal submitted a resident audit request to the prefecture to examine a massive fee paid to consultants as part of the city’s IR scheme.
That request has now been dismissed after the audit committee found no irregularities in the payment of the consultants’ fee.
Audit Committee Said Prefecture Acted Correctly
The “Stop the Casino Nagasaki Prefecture Network” isn’t convinced that Nagasaki’s fundraising plan for its IR project would meet the requirements of the national government.
The group said the IR proposal was bound to fail due to issues with its funding scheme, and therefore a consultancy payment worth JPY110 million (US$830,712), taken from the public purse, was inappropriate. But according to the audit committee, the prefecture has not done anything wrong to merit intervention by the committee.
It should not come as a surprise that the request was junked. The membership of the audit committee was appointed by the local governor, Kengo Oishi, who backs the IR plan. The committee consists of four members, two of whom also support Nagasaki’s bid to build Japan’s first casino.
Nagasaki forwarded its IR plan to the national authorities back in April. The development is estimated to cost JPY438.3 billion (US$3.8 billion) and will be funded through a partnership with Casinos Austria International Japan Inc., a unit of Casinos Austria International, a global gaming company that owns multiple casinos in Austria.
The casino resort will be built on a site near the Huis Ten Bosch theme park which, according to the media, could potentially be acquired by PAG, a private asset management firm based in Hong Kong, for as high as JPY70 billion.
In 2019, the operator of Huis Ten Bosch agreed to designate a portion of the amusement park as a possible location for a casino development. The Mayor of Sasebo City, Norio Tomonaga, said the potential sale of the Huis Ten Bosch theme park will not impact the IR proposal.
No Referendum on Osaka IR Plan
The dismissal of the audit request in Nagasaki is the latest blow to the anti-casino campaign in Japan. On July 29, the Osaka prefectural assembly also rejected a local referendum proposal put forward by another anti-casino group.