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ECONOMY

Tokyo Metropolitan Gov’t stresses advantage of hosting casino

  • September 10, 2019
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , Lead story
  • JMH Translation

By Futoshi Okamoto and Masashi Hara

 

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government outsourced its fiscal 2018 research report on hosting an integrated resort (IR) featuring a casino. In March this year, the government, at its own initiative, added language to the report to emphasize the advantage of hosting an IR in Tokyo, sources have informed Tokyo Shimbun. The Tokyo government added the sentence “If Tokyo hosts an IR, it could stimulate business after the Tokyo 2020 (Olympic and Paralympic) Games.” The contractor had not included the statement in the original report. Governor Yuriko Koike maintains her stance that the matter is “under consideration,” but IR operators have high hopes for Tokyo. While there remains concern about gamble addiction, it looks like the Tokyo government’s assessment of hosting an IR will attract further attention.

 

Titled “Research on the Impact of a Specified Complex Tourist Facility,” the report was issued in fiscal 2018 and was to inform the Tokyo government’s study on hosting an IR. The government has yet to publicly release the report, but it disclosed it to Tokyo Shimbun in response to its information disclosure request.

 

In the report, the Tokyo government emphasized the significance of “economic revitalization and promotion of tourism” as “an expected impact of hosting an IR in Tokyo.” It based this on the case of Singapore, which has IRs. There is concern about an economic downturn following the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, so the Tokyo government specified, “An IR could stimulate tourism promotion and economic growth after the Tokyo 2020 Games.” The research was outsourced to audit corporation Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC (DTT).

 

The Japanese Communist Party Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly members group obtained and released “the gist of a meeting held between the Tokyo government and DTT” (dated Feb. 28, 2019). In the gist is recorded that the Tokyo government requested DTT to add such words as “stimulate” in the report. In response to Tokyo Shimbun’s inquiry, the Tokyo government’s Bureau of Port and Harbor admitted that such language was not in the original report. Asked why the language was added, a bureau official explained, “[The addition] was made to make the report easy to understand; there was no intention to indicate the Tokyo government has a forward-looking stance on hosting an IR.”

 

The report does not specify a particular location for an IR. It estimates that an IR would have an economic ripple effect of between 700 and 900 billion yen, create 30,000 to 40,000 jobs, and generate 80 billion tax revenue. The report touched on negative social effects, such as gamble addition and money laundering, but simply said the metropolitan government, municipalities, and business operators “need to appropriately divide their roles and implement measures as needed.”

 

The Tokyo government conducted research on overseas integrated resorts from fiscal 2014 to 2017. In addition to the research, the government also compiled a report that constructing an IR in [the capital’s] Aomi district as part of a waterfront development project would bring about business profitability and positive economic effects.

 

According to an informed source connected with the U.S. casino industry, Tokyo is highly rated for “its large wealthy class and inbound tourists.” In response to Yokohama City’s announcement last month it will seek to host an IR, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, a leading U.S. casino company, announced that it will shelve its participation in an IR in Osaka and “focus on an opportunity to develop an IR in Tokyo and Yokohama.”

 

The central government announced the draft basic policy on integrated resorts on Sept. 4. The government included “developing attractive extended-stay tourism with strong international competitiveness” as an evaluation criteria for hosting an IR. On the other hand, many say that the Tokyo government will not openly take action to host an IR in the immediate future since a gubernatorial election and the Olympic Games are scheduled for next summer.

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