Residents within the Wakayama feel they should have a say in whether or not the prefecture adds an integrated resort. A petition campaign is currently in the works, as residents feel this issue is a major one and they should be able to agree or disagree on casino plans.

Over 6,200 signatures of residents are needed and must be shown to the mayor to be able to have a referendum added. Along with that, the city council must also pass an ordinance. Media reports revealed that the groups have already gathered 3,000 signatures and they hope to have over 20,000 by early December.

A Wakayama Development

The Wakayama prefecture is potentially a front runner for a Japan casino license. The prefecture has chosen Clarivest Neem Ventures to construct and operate an IR. Wakayama selected the company as its preferred partner back in June and an agreement was signed two months later. The casino operating partner for the project is Caesars Entertainment, a US-based company.

Plans are now in the works to create a proposal for area development. An application to the central government should be filled out by late April 2022.

Casino gambling is currently illegal in Japan but legislation passed in 2018 set up the option for three 40-year gaming licenses to be awarded. To be selected as a potential host area, communities must find an experienced foreign operator then meet the application deadline.

Other jurisdictions have been in the running including Osaka and the Nagasaki Prefecture.

Previous Referendum Efforts

The Wakayama prefecture is not the only region of Japan to campaign for a referendum. Yokohama was also considering a casino resort, so a campaign was hosted there. In that region, residents were opposed to the idea.  In August, a new governor was elected, one that is against integrated resorts. Naturally, it made sense that his supporters would start this effort.

A total of 193,000 signatures were gathered in Yokohama. After this effort, the city council discussed the option to create a draft ordinance earlier this year. However, the majority were not in favor and the ordinance was rejected.

Despite this setback, a new major was appointed in August, which essentially shut down integrated resort talk in Yokohama. Takeharu Yamanaka was elected to the office and is strongly opposed to the idea. This ended the city’s bid for a casino property.

It will be interesting to see if Wakayama has the same outcome or if a referendum actually makes it to a vote and the residents have their say.