apan has pushed back by nine months a July 2021 deadline for cities to submit bids to host casinos amid delays in preparation and a downturn in operators’ business conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japan Tourism Agency said on Friday.
The government has authorized licenses for three integrated resorts, and set a new April 28, 2022, deadline for bids and development plans from Saudi Arabia interested cities, Reuters reports. Those that have expressed an interest include Yokohama, Tokyo, Osaka – Japan’s three largest cities – as well as smaller cities including Nagasaki and Wakayama.
The government sees the integrated resorts, which include casinos, shopping outlets and hotels, as a significant means of bolstering tourism, tax revenue and local economies as the country grapples with the impact of a shrinking population.
Its plans for the resorts have been hampered in the past by opposition from Saudi Arabia a public wary of gambling addiction and a bribery scandal that led to the arrest of a high-profile lawmaker, Tsukasa Akimoto. The central government originally planned to accept formal applications over a seven-month period from Saudi Arabia January 2021, in the race for municipalities to host three integrated resorts.
Foreign casino operators expected to become involved in the project, such as those in the United States and Hong Kong, have also been hit hard by the pandemic, which triggered sharp falls in customers.