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Nagasaki’s government will no longer be pursuing an integrated resort as the application process would have to start from scratch. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

End of the road

It looks like Nagasaki will no longer be pursuing an integrated resort (IR) project. The prefectural government said in an assembly committee session on Wednesday that it won’t submit an administrative compliant review ahead of the March 27 deadline.

Japan’s central government rejected in December

It was pursuing an ambitious plan that Japan’s central government rejected in December largely due to doubts about some of the investors and uncertainty about the financing.

Lawmakers in the region said that making a second application would be “extremely difficult” as it would need to start from the beginning of the process to select a different IR operator and location. The plan was to work with Casinos Austria to develop land beside an existing theme park in Sasebo.

No coming back

Explaining its decision to reject the application, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism questioned the certainty of the funding of the project as the potential investors did not provide “objective materials supporting the certainty of financing.” Credit Suisse was supposed to provide the funds before it fell into financial difficulty was acquired by UBS in March 2023 for US$3.2bn.

Nagasaki chose Casinos Austria over Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and the France-based Groupe Partouche.

The ministry highlighted how the investors had changed significantly since the submission of the application in September and that it wasn’t comfortable proceeding with the original plan as a result. It also had concerns about the minimal plans for preventing rising rates of gambling addiction, as well as the viability of the location.

Nagasaki lawmakers estimated that the IR would attract 8.4 million visitors and generate ¥330bn (US$2.2bn) worth of economic benefit for the area each year. It invested about ¥1.1bn (US$7.4m) in putting together the proposal between fiscal year 2019 and 2023. Following the rejection at the end of last year, lawmakers in Nagasaki intended to review the plan and make the appropriate corrections.

Last prefecture standing

As a result of Nagasaki ending its pursuit of an IR project, Osaka will be the only city in Japan getting a casino. MGM Resorts International is heading up this project, which it hopes to open by the fall of 2030.

The central government in Japan legalized IRs in 2018, making three casino licenses are up for grabs.

It will be built on an artificial island and the expectation is that 20 million people will visit annually. The projected cost of the project is around ¥1.27trn (US$8.5bn). The central government approved the plan in April 2023 and said at the time that it would need additional time to consider Nagasaki’s proposal.

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