The latest region possibly interested in vying for one of the three highly sought-after integrated casino resort licenses that could soon be made available for Japan is home to Tokyo’s Disneyland.
Proponents of Chiba, a Japanese prefecture located about 40 km southeast of the center of Tokyo on Tokyo Bay, or about 30 minutes by car from Tokyo (Station) to Chiba (Station), reportedly cite its Narita International Airport (NRT) and the convention centers in the area, as its main selling points. Bloomberg reports that supporters of the area, which mostly consist of small local businesses, say that its strong resident support gives it a leg up over larger, high-profile destinations like Yokohama. The local government has reportedly not come on board yet.
The prefecture would reportedly join Tokyo and Osaka, along with other communities across Japan, and corporate suitors such as Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, MGM Resorts International, Galaxy Entertainment, and now, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, owner and operator of southeastern Connecticut’s giant Mohegan Sun venue. Each are all anxiously awaiting the passage of the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill.
GGRAsia reported on Wednesday that the government and its coalition partners are reportedly considering extending the current 150-day regular Diet session set to end on June 20, to either the end of June or early July in an effort to ensure the passage of important bills on labor reform and casinos, including the IR Implementation Bill.
Presenting a major hurdle for Chiba is the lack of a proactive local government such as Osaka, Hokkaido and Nagasaki, which are working to bring a resort to their respective cities.
Bloomberg reports that in 2013 the city assembly approved a resolution promoting IRs in the area. Chiba’s mayor has yet to make his position on the issue clear. According to the news agency, research on IRs from a neutral position is currently being done by a city representative.
Osaka University of Commerce professor, Toru Mihara, also cited the ambiguity of the local administration’s stance as a problem. “The problem about Chiba is that it’s not clear what the local administration wants to do,” said Mihara.
“Chiba’s rivals will be cities around Tokyo. No one has officially raised their hand yet, but they will make their position clearer when a casino implementation bill passes,” he explained.
According to Bloomberg, the heads of several local firms came together about a year ago to form a coalition which serves as the main advocate for the prefecture located in what is the sixth most populous prefecture among Japan’s 47. The firms reportedly represent industries from design to health care and their plan is to see a 5.7 million-square-foot floating island built offshore that can be accessed by luxury cruise ships. The coalition’s president, Ikuo Kantake, reportedly said that the project would take two years to build at a cost of cost US$587 million.