In Japan, the government for the northern island of Hokkaido is reportedly hoping to decide by the end of the year whether it should join the race to host one of the nation’s three coming integrated casino resorts.

Special committee established:

According to a report from GGRAsia, prefecture officials earlier formed a special committee to advise them on whether the large island of just over 5.3 million inhabitants should apply for the right to host one of the Las Vegas-style venues, which are due to feature a casino alongside other amenities such as hotels, shops and conference facilities.

GGRAsia reported that this working group consists of tourism experts as well as those with experience in the treatment of problem gambling. It held the second of four planned meetings yesterday with the intention of conducting the remainder by the end of December in advance of formulating an official recommendation.

Three competing locations:

Should the government of Hokkaido eventually decide to take its interest in obtaining a casino license to the next level, the source reported that it would be required to select between one of three competing local authorities encompassing the port cities of Kushiro and Tomakomai alongside the small rural mountain village of Rusutsu.

Tourism hot-spot:

Hokkaido is Japan’s northernmost territory and this location reportedly helps it to attract large numbers of tourists eager to escape the nation’s many urban conurbations in order to enjoy cool summers as well as ski-friendly winters. The largely rural island hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics and is easily reached by those in the rest of the country by means of the 14.5-mile Seikan Railway Tunnel running under the Tsugaru Strait.

Interest already high:

It was further reported that Las Vegas-headquartered Caesars Entertainment Corporation has already presented plans that would see it develop an integrated casino resort in Tomakomai in partnership with Canadian private equity firm, Clairvest Group Incorporated. Similarly, American gambling giant, Hard Rock International Incorporated recently declared that it intends to open an office in the city of some 174,000 people later this year with the firm’s Asian Casino Business Development Senior Vice-President, Daniel Cheng, calling it ‘the most suitable location’ for such a property in Hokkaido.

This interest was prefaced in November when Sapporo-based tourism firm, Kamori Kanko Company Limited, detailed that it would be partnering with local property developer, Niseko Alpine Developments Company Limited, in order to spend up to $200 million redeveloping an existing leisure resort in Rusutsu. The latter company’s Chairman, Jonathan Martin, declared at the time that this all-Japanese enterprise would include ‘a strong bid platform’ for an integrated casino resort.