The road ahead for Japanese IRs

With the passage of the IR Implementation Act on Friday evening, attention will soon begin to turn to the steps ahead. It is worth sketching out the basic timeline of what is expected to occur from this point forward.

Despite the considerable text length of the IR Implementation Act, the opposition parties are not wrong in their complaints that most of the specifics are being left to the discretion of government bureaucrats. Indeed, it is said that no less than 331 items regarding the operation of the new system has been left for the future decisions of the Cabinet and the bureaucracy, outside of the purview of the National Diet.

The opposition parties have argued, with considerable justification, that in practice the government has given itself a “blank check” regarding the management of IRs that they can fill out however they would like in future months and years.

The elaboration of the casino and IR control system is thus the next major project on the agenda.

According to the speculative timeline offered by David Bonnet, managing partner at Delta State Holdings Limited, at his recent press conference, it should be around next summer that the Casino Management Board (the precise English-language name is still pending) will be formed and that the supervising Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will issue its own basic guidelines.

Shortly after these guidelines are clarified—perhaps in the late summer of 2019—the interested local governments will embark upon their formal RFP processes and begin to select the consortiums with which to partner in their licensing bids.

It will perhaps be in the 2020-2021 period that the national government will select the three local governments that will be licensed, and then approve their plans to begin construction.