Yokohama to join bidding race for hosting casino resorts

The city of Yokohama is planning to join a race to bid for hosting newly legalized casino resorts in Japan that will be built by the mid-2020s, city government sources said Monday.
Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi may officially announce the city's policy later this week at a press conference, the sources said. The prefecture and city of Osaka as well as the prefectures of Wakayama and Nagasaki have already entered the race.
Under the integrated resorts promotion law enacted in July 2018, Japan aims to see the first batch of casino resorts comprising hotels, conference rooms and shopping facilities open at up to three areas in the country.
The port city with a population of some 3.75 million located just outside of Tokyo is considering building the resorts at the 47-hectare Yamashita Wharf, adjacent to its major sightseeing spot Yamashita Park, the sources said.
The city government will submit to a regular session of the local assembly in September a draft extra budget covering 260 million yen ($2.4 million) to be spent for the bidding, including expenditures to boost the number of staff, they added.
In March, Japan's Cabinet approved requirements for the envisioned casino resorts, including hotels securing more than 100,000 square meters for guest rooms. But the state has yet to make public its basic policy in selecting the locations.
The Yokohama mayor had said the city's stance about the bidding is "a blank slate," but she is likely to have judged it necessary to make early preparations so that the municipality can move forward as soon as the government's basic policy is disclosed, the sources said.
With the cooperation of 12 casino resort operators such as Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Ltd., Yokohama estimated in May that such a resort can generate annual economic effects of up to 1.6 trillion yen. The city has also held briefing sessions on the casino plan for its citizens.
The local chamber of commerce and industry has requested the mayor to apply to host the resort, while a questionnaire survey given to citizens who joined the briefing sessions showed some negative views associated with concerns about gambling addiction and deterioration of public safety.
Furthermore, Yamashita Wharf is the subject of another redevelopment plan focused on building tourist spots and attractions and a local association of warehousing business operators at the wharf remains opposed to the casino project.

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