In Japan, the mayor of the city of Wakayama has reportedly revealed that the community of some 369,000 people could be forced to give up on its plan to host one of the nation’s coming integrated casino resorts should the future facilities not be foreigner-only.

According to a report from Asia Gaming Brief citing local media sources, Masahiro Obana made the revelation on Friday during a city council meeting and explained that he would withdraw his support if Japanese citizens were permitted to gamble inside the new properties.

“If a Wakayama-style integrated resort is not permitted by the central government then we would be forced to give up our plans to host an integrated resort,” Obana reportedly told the Wakayama City Council.

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. Federal officials are likely to begin the process of considering specific rules governing the properties this autumn and fears over problem gambling have seen many in the Asian nation express their belief that the new casinos should only be permitted to serve non-Japanese nationals.

Located on the main island of Honshu, Wakayama was reportedly one of the first areas of Japan to express a desire to host an integrated casino resort with Obana and Yoshinobu Nisaka, governor of the Wakayama Prefecture, among some of the most vocal supporters.

Asia Gaming Brief additionally reported that Friday saw the Wakayama Bar Association issue a statement against the building of an integrated casino resort for the region due to concerns over problem gambling and organized crime. The group moreover described the possibility that any new Japanese casinos would be foreigner-only casino as “an extremely unrealistic policy.”

“The very fact that the plan calls for limiting the casino to foreigners is itself a tacit admission that it is something harmful,” read the statement from the Wakayama Bar Association.

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