Yokohama Works Hard on Convincing the Public to Build an IR

Singapore, Singapore - November 02, 2016: Aerial View Over Singapore to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel at dusk.

It seems that the talks about building three integrated resorts in Japan are on again. There were not many pieces of news throughout 2020 due to the 2021 pandemic. However, things are getting back to the pre-Covid era, or at least it seems so as the IR debate is on the menu once again.

The Japanese legislators are all-in when it comes to changing gambling laws to allow for IRs to be built in the country. However, the general public in areas where IRs could be built is not really fond of any gambling activities. One such place is the Japanese city of Yokohama, which is one of the biggest cities in the Country of the Rising Sun.

The town leaders recently held a total of six public briefings, with the goal of educating the residents of Yokohama on the matter and explaining why being home to an integrated resort could be a good thing for them.

Deputy Mayor Toshihide Hirahara stated that an IR would have had a very positive impact on the economic development of the city. Moreover, it would create many new jobs and would improve the overall financial status of the city. Hirahara added that the IR would be “one of the sparks required for a post-Covid economic recovery.”

The public was interested in concrete numbers, and one of the public representatives asked how much the city could expect to gain from an integrated resort. The officials respond that as much as 15% of the total casino revenue would go to the city’s coffers. Moreover, the officials added that tax revenues are bound to increase with an IR, as it was expected to add many jobs and more business to the city.

Yokohama Pushes the IR Bid

Yokohama’s officials continue to preach building an IR in the city, even though the public seems heavily opposed to the idea. Some of the vocal public representatives expressed their concerns about the harm that a casino might bring among the residents of the city, and their demand was that Yokohama should drop out of the IR race that’s currently underway.

Mayor of Yokohama, Fumiko Hayashi, decided not to hold a public referendum on the topic — at least not yet, so it seems. Instead, Hayashi’s plan was to make the benefits of an IR public and explain it to the residents of the big city in Japan. Mayor’s strategy was not perceived as an ideal solution, according to plenty of officials, who are now starting a campaign to end her career as Mayor of Yokohama.

Even though Yokohama is still officially in the IR race, it seems that it has stumbled upon stiff competition, as many other places throughout Japan are trying the same thing — to become home to one of the three integrated resorts. Moreover, casino operators interested in building an IR show no interest in the Yokohama drama.

One public briefing is over. Five more to go. The next one is scheduled for March 14.

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