Missing operator perspectives in Japan’s IR legislation

Concerns are being raised over the shape of the forthcoming IR Implementation Bill in advance of its formal unveiling, expected to occur around August or September.

At last week’s Japan Tourism Research Association (JTRA) meeting in Tokyo, speakers tried to gently point out that unless the Japanese government availed itself of the experience that could be provided by the international operators, it was quite possible that avoidable mistakes in the bidding process of IR licenses could result.

Both the Japanese bureaucrats who are compiling the bill as well as the eight-member Experts’ Committee advising the government do not have practical past experience operating casinos or designing a bidding process of this nature, said the speakers.

After the JTRA meeting, Jane Tsai, CEO of JCT Holdings, told Asia Gaming Brief: “In order for Japan’s IRs to be successful, it is imperative that the Japanese central government engage experts with tangible IR and gaming operating experience, not just those who have studied integrated resorts from afar. There is a commercially untenable gap developing between the government’s academic theory and practical operational reality.”

During the presentations at the JTRA event itself, Daniel Cheng, Hard Rock International’s senior vice-president of business development in Asia, made a similar observation: “While the national government has so far come up with an admirable process, if there is anything that is lacking, we would say that there is very little industry consultation.”

A video recording of Mr. Cheng’s full JTRA presentation, including specific examples of how operator perspectives could benefit the Japanese bidding process, is available at this link.