The local government in Nagasaki, Japan has selected Austrian casino operator Casinos Austria as its IR partner as the prefecture prepares to compete for one of three casino licenses available in the country. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Some tough competition
The local government of the Japanese prefecture of Nagasaki has finally made a decision in regards to its integrated resort (IR) partner. Officials have selected Casinos Austria to develop and operate the region’s casino offering on a 30-hectare site at Huis Ten Bosch at Sesebo City.
697 points in the prefecture’s request-for-proposal process
In a Tuesday announcement, Nagasaki authorities said they had picked Austria-based casino operator Casinos Austria as the “priority” choice for the government’s IR partner. The operator received a score of 697 points in the prefecture’s request-for-proposal process.
Casinos Austria, which owns 12 casinos in Austria, beat two other contenders with its bid, including a Mohegan Sun-Oshidori International consortium and Parkview Group. Mohegan-Oshidori came second with 682.8 points, while Parkview came in last with 667.1.
An integrated resort, commonly known as an IR, is a casino with a hotel and other facilities integrated. This could include convention space, theme parks, luxury shops, and fine dining experiences.
Oshidori contests the process
Last week, Nagasaki’s second place IR contender Oshidori International raised issue with the fairness of the request-for-proposal process. The operator questioned whether the local government had conducted the process “in an ethical manner,” and announced that it intended to pull out of the race unless officials made “certain changes.”
Although the Hong Kong-listed firm was vague in its reasoning, it pointed to “restrictive and unreasonable rules imposed by the Nagasaki prefecture.” Oshidori said the conditions had made it impossible for it to “conduct business in a prudent and efficient manner.”
In response to Oshidori’s concerns, the prefecture’s Tuesday statement said it conducted the process “with fairness and integrity.” Officials added that they came to a decision based on both the findings of the evaluation committee and the results of an eligibility investigation.
What comes next?
Nagasaki began its IR proposal process in January this year with four operators initially contending for the development. Officials aimed to finalize an agreement with a partner in the summer or fall of 2021.
the prefecture must still acquire one of the three IR licenses on offer
Commenting on the next steps for the prefecture, Nagasaki governor Hodo Nakamura said the government will form a master agreement with Casinos Austria before progressing. However, the prefecture must still acquire one of the three IR licenses on offer in Japan before it can begin developing the casino resort.
The national government will begin accepting IR applications in October this year. Currently, four regions are vying for the three available licenses. In addition to Nagasaki, this includes Wakayama, Osaka, and Yokohama.
Of these contenders, three have now chosen IR partners. Osaka officials have selected an MGM Resorts-led consortium to develop its casino offering. The operator submitted plans for a $9bn casino last month. Meanwhile, Wakayama has backed a $4.3bn plan from Canadian private equity management firm Clairvest Group.