Wakayama Governor Goes Full Speed Ahead on IR Bid

Despite formidable obstacles, Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka is undeterred in his pursuit of an IR at the Marina City location.

Governor Nisaka was the only local government official of his level to attend last week’s Japan Gaming Congress, again signaling his strong determination to attract an IR to his prefecture. He sat down on the sidelines of that event for an exclusive interview with Asia Gaming Brief.

When asked point blank why he believes Wakayama can win one of the three IR licenses that will be on offer when virtually no analyst gives his prefecture a chance, Governor Nisaka answered confidently, “Those who say our chances are close to zero are wrong. We are not people who waste our time.”

His main point is that Wakayama would endeavor to make its IR plan among the most profitable in the nation. He cited Marina City’s easy access to major transportation networks as well as to major tourist locations. Additionally, comparatively little investment would be needed to build the surrounding infrastructure, as the site is basically ready for further development at any time.

Additionally, he suggested that Osaka’s nearby bid was not really a major drawback because the government has determined to select the best bids on their own merits and will not automatically exclude the notion of two winning bids from the Kansai region.

Indeed, according to the prefecture’s promotional pamphlet, “There will be a synergetic effect if IRs are opened in both Osaka and Wakayama.”

On the political front, Governor Nisaka pointed out that the authority to create an IR lay almost entirely in the hands of the prefectural government. He appeared confident that Wakayama Mayor Masahiro Obana could be persuaded to accept local visitors to the casino when the IR proposal is ultimately sent to the central government a couple of years from now.

He did acknowledge, however, that if anti-casino candidate Kumiko Shima should become mayor and stick to her campaign promises, then that would indeed derail the Wakayama bid. He suggested that such a stance would be a great economic loss for Wakayama and wondered aloud if the people of the city would accept such an outcome.

Governor Nisaka also outlined the anticipated schedule for the Wakayama RFI. He stated that briefings would be given to the operators in early June and the deadline for submissions would be in late August. (AGB Nippon)