This week’s featured article
As the Diet prepares to debate the structure of integrated casino resorts this autumn, competition in Osaka and neighboring Wakayama to win the rights to host one of the first legal gambling complexes in the country is heating up.
The most talked-about candidate for the site remains Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay. But two other places are also lobbying hard to host the tourism attraction — Rinku Town in Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, and Wakayama Marina City in Wakayama Prefecture.
Rinku Town, home to shopping centers, offices and logistics centers, sits across the bay from Kansai airport in southern Osaka, just a few minutes away by train. Proponents of the site believe it’s ideally located to attract planeloads of tourists heading to and from the airport.
A 2013 survey by the city of Izumisano showed 68 percent of residents supported lifting the ban on casino gambling, which happened last year through legislation in the Diet.
Farther south, in Wakayama Prefecture, efforts are accelerating to secure a casino resort in Wakayama Marina City, about 45 minutes by car from Kansai airport and 70 minutes by car from downtown Osaka.
The prefecture believes it can attract enough of the roughly 6 million foreign visitors to Kansai airport to make a profit. Officials say that if Wakayama Marina City were awarded a casino license, construction of facilities could begin immediately, unlike at Yumeshima. That could give Wakayama the edge in its bid to become the host of Japan’s first so-called integrated resort.
Wakayama’s efforts have irritated officials in Osaka and Izumisano, who worry Tokyo would not award licenses for two casino resorts in the same general vicinity.
Still, political and business leaders in the city of Osaka and Osaka Prefecture have touted Yumeshima as an ideal site to host a casino resort.
The Yumeshima plan has attracted interest from overseas casino operators like Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Resorts International, and especially Melco Resorts & Entertainment, which has said it prefers building in Osaka to Tokyo.
As the head of the Osaka-centered Nippon Ishin no Kai party and an ally of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Ichiro Matsui and his party have also pushed their recommendations for casino resort standards and operational policies on the government.
But with the panel recommending that prefectural governments take the lead and work closely with casino resorts, some in Osaka Prefecture are concerned that prefectural politics will be prioritized over local considerations and economic logic in their rush to meet the requirements for building one.
The government is expected to approve only two or three integrated resorts at first.
First published in The Japan Times on Aug. 27.
One-minute chat about resorts.
Collect words related to gambling, e.g., money, luck, risk, cards.
1) proponent: supporter, e.g., “Proponents of the idea stress that it will benefit the city.”
2) vicinity: neighborhood, e.g., “There are no shops in the vicinity.”
3) tout: promote, e.g., “This product was touted as the customer’s favorite.”
Guess the headline
Competition to h_ _ _ Japan’s first c_ _ _ _ _ resort heats up
1) Which location is the most likely for the casino resort in Japan?
2) According to a recent survey, how did residents in one of the candidate cities react to having a casino?
3) How do foreign capitals see the casino project?
Let’s discuss the article
1) Would you like to go to a casino if you could?
2) Where do you think is a good place to host a casino resort?
3) What do you think about hosting casino resorts in Japan, or in your city?
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