Osaka’s Plans To Host Integrated Resort Casino Under Threat
- Osaka’s city council recently gave the nod on a proposed casino on Yumeshima Island
- The proposal is facing strong opposition from various groups
- Concerns raised include the huge development costs and a rise in gambling addiction
The race to build Japan’s first integrated casino resort is gaining momentum as Osaka’s local assembly recently approved a proposal for a JPY1.08 trillion ($9.1 billion) casino on the city’s man-made Yumeshima Island. The massive project will be financed by MGM Resorts, in partnership with Japanese financial services firm Orix, with investments from various companies.
Osaka is competing against Wakayama and Nagasaki to be the site of the country’s first integrated resort. The three have until April 28 to submit their respective proposals to the national authorities. Osaka’s IR Regional Development Plan recently received the green light from the city council under the leadership of Mayor Ichiro Matsui.
Yumeshima Proposal Facing Strong Opposition
The plan to build a casino on Yumeshima, an artificial island located on the westernmost part of the city, covers a total land area of 770,000 square meters, and requires major land reform construction as well as soil liquefaction measures which will come with astonishing costs. This is one of the main concerns raised by some groups and city officials who are opposed to the project.
Mayor Matsui is banking on the planned casino resort to drive economic growth for the city, but residents argue the massive cost of developing the project is too much to bear. Under the proposal, taxpayers will shoulder JPY79 billion of the total cost of building the resort.
More than 100 petitions have so far been submitted to the Osaka assembly calling for the proposal to be scrapped altogether, or to allow residents to have their say via a referendum. The assembly has remained undeterred by the growing opposition and decided to push on with its plans.
Another issue pointed out by anti-casino campaigners was that the integrated resort could become a breeding ground for organized crime while at the same time leading the Japanese people towards gambling addiction.
Japan already has a high rate of addiction and the construction of more gambling hubs will only worsen the situation, according to one of the groups who are blocking the project. They claim that local firms backing the proposed development are only after the money. The groups now want a local referendum on the plan, and they’re confident the project will be rejected by the residents.
No Guarantee IR Plan Will Be Approved
Bay City Ventures, a Japanese casino consultancy firm, already admitted that there is no assurance that the national government will approve the IR plans, despite the economic, employment, and tourism benefits that they would bring.
Osaka’s Yumeshima proposal which is the frontrunner in the ongoing IR race, will need to overcome strong opposition before it succeeds.