As legislators in Japan continue the process of crafting specific rules governing the nation’s coming integrated casino resorts, the governor for Wakayama Prefecture has reportedly suggested that only foreigners should be allowed to gamble at the new venues.

According to a report from Asia Gaming Brief, Yoshinobu Nisaka made the recommendation during an interview conducted at last week’s Japan Gaming Congress in Tokyo and explained that restricting gambling to non-Japanese citizens would make the venues more politically palatable due to concerns over addictions.

“In Japan, if someone is seen as a gambling addict, everyone will turn against the project,” Nisaka told Asia Gaming Brief. “It’s a very absolutist view. Personally, I’m not that worried but considering the position of Wakayama Prefecture, in order to gather everyone’s support for the project to build an integrated casino resort, it should be a gaming center for foreigners only. Then all the political opposition would melt away.”

After passing enabling legislation in late-December, lawmakers in Japan are reportedly expected to award up to three integrated casino resort licenses for disparate areas of the nation in 2019 with the venues possibly welcoming their first players by 2023. The likeliest option is set to see local authorities required to team up with operators in order to bid for one of the licenses while foreign firms including the likes of Melco Resorts And Entertainment Limited, Crown Resorts Limited, Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited are said to be interested.

The consensus view had been that Japan is to allow locals to gamble so long as they are willing to pay a casino entry fee similar to that already imposed in Singapore. However, placing a ban on Japanese citizens gambling could see potential foreign operators, which are moreover said to encompass Genting Singapore, MGM Resorts International, Hard Rock Cafe International Incorporated and Boyd Gaming Corporation, revise down the amount they would be willing to invest in any future integrated casino resort.

The cities of Osaka and Yokohama have long been seen as early front-runners to host one of the nation’s first western-style gambling establishments, which are to contain casinos, hotels, shops and conference spaces, with Las Vegas-based management consultancy Global Market Advisors recently advising that the latter location could expect to bring in annual gross gaming revenues of around $5.6 billion courtesy of a local market population of about 38.6 million adults.

Located in the south of the nation on Honshu Island, Wakayama Prefecture has a total population of around one million people with Nisaka reportedly declaring that he is still in favour of welcoming an integrated casino resort to the area as a way to attract wealthy leisure tourists. He additionally stated that any such enterprise would likely be positioned in the oceanfront Marina City development, which is a 40-minute drive from Kansai International Airport, and be much smaller than anything envisioned for Osaka or Yokohama.

“Wakayama [Prefecture] is a worthy resort location, please consider placing an integrated resort with us,” Nisaka told Asia Gaming Brief.

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