Nagasaki’s Integrated Resort Plan Rejected by Japan

Posted on: December 27, 2023, 10:59h. 

Last updated on: December 27, 2023, 10:59h.

The Japanese national government’s expert panel on integrated resorts (IRs) has rejected Nagasaki Prefecture’s plan to develop a casino-featuring resort in Sasebo. It was the expected outcome, given the extensive delays in considering and approving the project after the approval of Osaka’s plan earlier this year.

A photo of the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, Japan, where the proposed Nagasaki IR was to be located
A photo of the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, Japan, where the proposed Nagasaki IR was to be located. The Japanese central government has rejected the prefecture’s plan. (Image: Fukuoka Now)

The panel, seen as an important part of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), expressed concerns about the project’s funding in rejecting the proposal. It also highlighted the lack of a clear commitment to preventing gambling addiction.

The panel did not believe that Nagasaki had sufficient funding to support the project, and it also expressed concerns that the project’s proposed location would not attract enough visitors to generate the economic benefits that the prefecture had projected.

Back to the Drawing Board

Nagasaki had proposed a JPY438.3 billion (US$3.07 billion) investment in the project, including a casino, hotel, and shopping mall, with Casinos Austria as the partner for the development. However, serious doubts were raised over the ultimate source of funding for the ambitious project, casting significant doubt over its viability.

In addition to the funding concerns, the panel as voiced worries about the project’s proposed casino operations, citing a lack of adequate information on plans for gambling addiction measures and public protection from the possible negative impacts of casino gambling.

The fallout is a major blow for Nagasaki, which had hoped to rank among the first three neighboring areas of Japan to open a casino resort. A substantial amount of time and financial investment in the project leaves it wanting.

Nagasaki May Have Another Shot

Although Nagasaki has not given up on the idea of developing an IR, it has pledged to review its plan and ensure that the issues identified by the panel are resolved. The safety of the public from negative impacts of gambling, should a casino be constructed, is a priority for the prefecture as well, as they expect a possible second chance with a more satisfying proposal.

However, bearing in mind the environmental impact and accommodating capacity of visitors, the government and the public at large may wish to consider a limit on the number of IRs and their choice of location. This may spell opportunity or additional risk for a potential second chance in the future.

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