• POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Osaka’s Casino Resort Plan Gains Govt Approval

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday announced government approval of a casino-featuring integrated resort development plan submitted by the western prefecture of Osaka and its namesake capital.

“It has been decided that the minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism will give the approval,” Kishida told a government task force meeting. The government will approve a casino resort project for the first time.

The government also decided to continue examining a similar plan submitted by the southwestern prefecture of Nagasaki around the same time as the Osaka plan.

The Osaka resort complex “will not only help develop the Kansai region further after the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka and contribute to our country’s economic growth, but also become a tourist attraction that spreads Japan’s charm to the rest of the world,” Kishida told the meeting.

Under a related law, up to three casino resorts can be established in Japan.

Eight areas were considering hosting such a resort as of 2019. Only two of them, namely Osaka and Nagasaki, submitted their development plans while the central government accepted applications between October 2021 and April 2022.

After the end of the application period, an expert panel set up by the tourism ministry started to examine the two plans.

It concluded the Osaka plan meets the government’s criteria through a comprehensive evaluation of the concept of the resort complex, its size and its impact on the local economy.

Initially, the plan was expected to be approved by the end of 2022.

The screening process went on longer than expected due to the emergence of liquefaction risk and soil contamination on the artificial island of Yumeshima in Osaka Bay, where the resort would be built.

According to the Osaka plan, a company led by U.S. casino giant MGM Resorts International and Orix Corp. will operate the facility, with initial investment estimated at ¥1.8 trillion.

The facility is expected to attract around 20 million visitors a year.

The Osaka prefectural and city governments hope that the resort will open in autumn or winter 2029 at the earliest.