January 31, 2021 by

How to Understand the Slow Progress of Integrated Resorts in Japan

In 2018, Japan passed a law allowing for three Integrated Resorts in the country.  The law itself was quite controversial; it had broad opposition as well as broad support.  Slots Play Casinos has been following this story for three years now, and as we think you will see, the slow progress of what is actually a very good idea for Japan as it is for many other locations including many in the United States, actually points to another of the many advantages gamers who play at an online casino enjoy!

Japan Needs a Big Influx of Money

One of the reasons for support of the IR legislation was because supporters said that Integrated Resorts (IR) would bring a lot of new tax revenues since the casinos would pay a hefty tax on income.

The need for finding another source of tax revenue for the country stemmed in part because while Japan was once the giant of manufacturing in the Far East it no longer is.  Japan has experienced two full generations of low population growth, which means a much older population and one that is getting older every year.  Thus there is not a large younger generation of workers to work in manufacturing as there was from the end of World War II until the 1980’s.

China Has Eclipsed Japan as a Center of Manufacturing

China has taken over as the manufacturing giant in the Far East.  No other country in that region can compete with China for a large manufacturing corps of workers.  Given the age of Japan’s population and the sheer numbers of Chinese people happy to take manufacturing jobs, China will not easily relinquish the mantle of the leading manufacturing center in the Far East.

The Lost Decades

Japan has also seen a great decrease in personal incomes and standards of living in the last 40 years.  The 1990s were called the lost decade but the “loss” continues.  Japan desperately needs a new source of revenue and it has been clear for some time that that source would not come from manufacturing.

The Allure of Tourism

Japan certainly has come a long way since the nation was “opened” by trade to the outside world in the middle of the 19th century.  Still, Japan is a very expensive country to live in or to visit since it has so few resources of its own.  As a result, many people felt that Japan needed to find a way to dramatically increase tourism.

Singapore Shows a Different Path

Singapore is a very conservative country.  It has similarities to Japan in that it is crowded with no real natural resources.  Singapore resisted the idea of allowing land-based casinos to be built in the city state.  That was the case until the idea of Integrated Resorts was developed.

The opposition to land-based casinos that was pervasive in the government and populous of Singapore for so many years was based on the image of land-based casinos as hotbeds of corruption that attracted the lowest elements of society.

The opposition to land-based casinos was taken in large measure by the experience of Las Vegas which became the capital of land-based casinos serving almost entirely an out-of-state clientele.  When the first land-based casinos were built in Nevada, the state where Las Vegas is located, the state had a very small population, as it still does outside of Las Vegas.  That’s because Nevada is entirely desert.

At the time, Las Vegas was a small, dusty, desert town.  The land based casinos did attract less-than-savory out-of-state gamblers.

As a city state, the fear was that Singapore would be “invaded” by low-life tourists if they were to allow land-based casinos in the country.  Then the IR idea changed many minds in Singapore and in many other places as well.

What is an Integrated Resort?

In short, an IR is a large complex of facilities that serve many needs of both local people and tourists, of business and vacationers.  As such, an IR would have many facilities that would attract families such as water parks, theme parks, and family accommodations in hotels.

The IR would also have facilities that would attract business clients such as a convention center.  The hotel might be both high class to serve the business and convention trade and moderate to serve families.

Simple, average, every-day tourists would come for the theaters, the shopping on a large- and varied-scale, the spa, the many different types of restaurants, and more.

The idea of a casino in an Integrated Resort was sold to the people of Singapore as an afterthought, a service that people who had come to the resort might enjoy by-the-by.  This was the thinking that sold the legislature of Japan on the idea of Integrated Resorts in Japan.

The IR Movement in Japan Experiences Roadblocks

Certainly, the covid-19 pandemic has put a major monkey wrench in to all plans for three Integrated Resorts in Japan.  At this point, supporters of the idea would be happy to see one IT built in Japan!

The Slow Process of Building Billion Dollar Complexes

The legislature in Japan knew that a complex of buildings to accommodate a large Integrated Resort would take a lot of time.  For one, opponents asked where in crowded Japan would one IR be built much less three.

The Japanese commission assigned the task of finding investors, coordinating the long building process, and seeing the project to fruition has had quite a bit of trouble getting going.

The commission got big money concerns from Las Vegas interested in the idea.  However, fully one year ago, the Sands Corporation pulled out of the project.  At the time that Sands pulled out, the commission had finally said that it would entertain bids from cities to have three Integrated Resorts built.  It was expected that Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama would put in bids.

In other words, it took the commission two years to invite bids from cities to have an IR built there by which time one of the big money investors had already pulled out.

The bids were slow in coming possibly because the corona virus made such large investment in a land-based complex designed to attract tourists appear much more risky than before.  So, the commission has now extended the period for the presentation of bids to the end of 2021.

The Wynn casino conglomerate had opened an office in Yokohama but the slow progress in the project compelled Wynn to close that office in August 2020.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Resigns

The Prime Minister’s resignation late last year means that projects such as the Integrated Resorts will likely be put on hold.  The long term goal of three IR complexes is still on the books but talks, meetings, and actual progress have slowed to a crawl.

Turmoil in Osaka

This is one of the three biggest cities in Japan and was on board for an IR.  However, the city just decided to divide itself into four wards.  It remains uncertain how this will affect the construction of the IR in Osaka.  For one, each ward might want to be the location of the one Integrated Resort slated for the city.

Prognosis

The idea of an Integrated Resort serving many different and diverse populations is so successful elsewhere that it seems inevitable that at least one if not the full three IRs will eventually be built in Japan.  Still, progress is achingly slow in the country despite the palpable need for such a revenue-generating business venture.

Laurie Renfield has been following the casino scene for both print and visual media outlets for over two decades. Renfield's research focuses on both land-based casino entertainment and online casino gambling. She is dedicated to making sure that, regardless of where a player decides to compete, s/he'll achieve the best gambling experience and the most satisfying rewards.

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