Wakayama publishes IR plan, drops foreigner-only casino proposal

On Tuesday, the Wakayama Prefectural Government published a report called “Wakayama Prefecture IR Basic Concept,” which provided specific data and projections, and also dropped its proposal to exclude Japanese from the casino.

According to the analysis conducted by Deloitte Tohmatsu, an IR at Marina City would produce an economic benefit to the prefecture at a level of approximately 300 billion yen (about US$2.8 billion), which amounts to roughly 10 percent of the prefecture’s total annual production. An estimated 20,000 jobs would be created.

The plan projects that a 280 billion yen (US$2.6 billion) investment would be needed to construct the Marina City IR, and that the investment recovery period would be 8.7 years.

It foresees about 4 million people visiting the IR annually, and sales at the casino amounting to 140 billion yen.

The IR Basic Concept also included information about a variety of policies to combat gambling addiction, bankruptcy, and other matters.

On the sensitive issue of whether or not local residents would be allowed to use the casino,

Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka completely reversed his earlier proposal: “If the operator adopts these countermeasures, then there’s no reason why the casino must be only for foreigners. I withdraw the policy of saying that Japanese can never enter.”

Of course, considering the fact that Deloitte Tohmatsu has been working on these economic projections for months (clearly on the basis of Japanese visitors to the casino), it’s now apparent that Governor Nisaka had been planning this policy reversal long before he finally announced it to the public.

This also likely explains why the anti-casino citizens’ group led by Masayoshi Hatanaka was effectively denied information about the Deloitte Tohmatsu reports in February, when the requested documents provided almost entirely blacked out.

Wakayama Mayor Masahiro Obana, who would also need to sign off on the project, suggested last month that he still opposes Japanese entry to a prospective casino in his city. On the surface, a gap has now opened up between himself and the governor on this issue, though there is plenty of reason to suspect the Obana’s position is mainly a political posture as he faces a reelection bid.