Environmental Concerns Forces Suzuki To Drop Casino Resort Bid

Governor Naomichi Suzuki of Hokkaido has announced that the Japanese island will no longer seek an immediate offer to develop an integrated casino resort due to concerns about the impact that the venture might have on the local environment.

The island is designated as one of several future resort locations, made possible by a law passed in July 2018 by the Japanese parliament.

However, on Friday, Suzuki told the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly that the island will be removing itself from the immediate running as it addresses the project-related environmental concerns.

“An integrated resort in Hokkaido, which would coexist with nature, has big potential, but I thought it would be impossible for us to give due consideration to the environment in the limited period of time before the government selects the locations,” Suzuki said, according to the Kyodo News agency.

Suzuki did not rule out going back to the subject, saying that the government should prepare to bid for a casino resort in the future in order to contribute to Hokkaido’s “sustainable development.”

Hard Rock International announced plans to build an integrated entertainment resort on Hokkaido earlier this year as part of its quest to win the country’s three casino gambling licences.

A number of hotels, a Hard Rock Live venue, theatres and a direct connection to Chitose International Airport were included in the proposal. The initial plans did not specifically apply to a casino, as required by the 2018 legislation, with only 3 percent of the total resort size allowed to host gambling.

Among the other locations known to be a casino resort are Okinawa, Osaka, Yokohama, Wakayama, Sasebo and Tokyo’s capital. Law will allow the granting of an initial three licences, each valid for 10 years and subject to renewal every five years after launch.

Japan’s government said it would consider seven years after authorising the first batch of three to add more resorts.

Such restrictions include banning people from entering a casino more than 10 time in a week. Foreigners are free to visit as many times as they like, but local people are going to face a fee of 6,000 yen (£ 42/€50/$56) for each visit.

Japan’s government appointed Michio Kitamura, the former Defense Ministry Inspector General for Legal Enforcement, earlier this month to lead the new regulatory body for the Casino Management Committee.

Kitamura was one of several appointments proposed for the new regulatory body to be formally established by the government in January next year.