Osaka citizens push for IR referendum

The IR plan has already been approved by the Osaka Prefectural Government.
The IR plan has already been approved by the Osaka Prefectural Government.

A group has gathered the necessary number of signatures to request a referendum, but Osaka authorities are likely to reject it again.

Japan.- Although plans to develop an IR in Osaka have already been approved and submitted to national authorities, residents continue to push for a referendum on the matter. A group has gathered 157,716 signatures calling for a referendum.

However, casino executive Daniel Cheng told Asian Gaming Brief, a referendum is unlikely to be granted, even if the governor risks not being re-elected in 2023. A previous request for a referendum made by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was rejected by 58 out of 83 votes on Osaka’s council.

However, in Yokohama, an anti-IR candidate buried plans to develop an IR there after ousting the previous governor who had refused to hold a referendum.

Osaka’s operator partner, the MGM-Orix consortium, has proposed to invest JPY1tn (US$9.1bn) in the planned IR. The proposed site is an artificial island: Dream Island, in Osaka Bay. The project has a target date of opening in 2029.

Besides Osaka, Nagasaki is the only other city to have submitted IR District Development Plans approved by local authorities.

The method established by the national government in December 2020 states that the IR applications will be judged based on a points scale of up to 1,000 under five key criteria:

  • The commitment of the IR to the Japanese travel industry (up to 450 points).
  • The capacity to run a safe business (200 points).
  • The national economic and social effects (150 points).
  • Programmes to address gambling-related harm (150 points).
  • The use of casino revenue for the public good (50 points).
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