Posted on: December 8, 2022, 11:50h. 

Last updated on: December 8, 2022, 02:33h.

Japan has been working on the introduction of casino gambling and integrated resorts (IR) for several years, but is going to need more time. Osaka and Nagasaki are likely going to see approval for their plans, though that won’t happen before the end of the year, according to a report by media outlet The Mainichi.

Osaka, Japan
A view of Osaka, Japan’s traditional and modern structures. Osaka and Nagasaki are still waiting for the national government to approve their integrated resort plans. (Image: Zicasso)

A notice by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLITT) to Osaka and Nagasaki on Thursday indicated that there’s still work to be done before the prefectures’ IR projects can be approved. As a result, the timetable to begin construction, and ultimately, complete the projects will face delays.

Initially, there were hopes that the first IR – most likely that of Osaka – would arrive in 2024-2025. However, the entire government process has taken longer than expected, pushing back the projected launches to at least 2027. That no longer seems viable, either.

Japan’s IR Projects Moving Slowly

When Osaka and Nagasaki presented their proposals earlier this year, it seemed as though Osaka might have its IR projects in place by 2029 and Nagasaki by 2027. However, the national government still hasn’t given its final approval, which is forcing additional changes.

The MLITT and the prefectural governments are still holding discussions on the projects, which means that final approval isn’t coming anytime soon. There have been a number of concerns raised over the environmental impact and use of government funds for the IR construction, and these are some of the reasons everything is taking longer than originally thought.

There was hope that the national government would approve – or possibly reject – the proposals sometime this past October. According to an unidentified minister with the MLITT, it now appears that no approval will come until after the new year. That will leave at least a three-month delay in the process, which will cause a chain reaction for every step that follows.

Last month, Osaka had to deliver more documentation regarding its proposal to the government. It had to explain how it was going to address claims that the city of Osaka was going to spend millions of dollars in public money to support the construction and development.

2030 and Beyond

The prefecture complied, but also tried to put pressure on the government to act. At least one member of parliament from Osaka urged Japan to reach a decision before the end of the year, but that apparently won’t happen.

There are rumors that the final decision won’t come until possibly next March, six months beyond the original date. As a result, some IR supporters have raised concerns that launching the IRs might not happen until after 2030.

That would be much later than the prefectures, casino partners, and other backers had anticipated. They already have millions of dollars invested in the projects. As such, they are anxious to start seeing a return on those investments.

It’s apparent that the government isn’t going to respond to pressure. In addition, it will spend as much time as it believes it needs to ensure the introduction of IRs is as smooth and complete as possible.