Wakayama Backs $4.3bn Clairvest Plan for Casino Resort


The Wakayama government has selected Clairvest Group to develop and run its proposed IR project on an artificial island, Wakayama Marina City (pictured above). [Image: Shutterstock]

Wakayama makes its selection

Japanese lawmakers legalized commercial casinos in late 2016. Almost five years later, the country’s plans for three integrated resorts (IR) are taking shape. Four locations are still vying for those three licenses, and Wakayama is the first to select its operator.

Ending the prefecture’s selection period, Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka confirmed on Wednesday that the government has selected a consortium led by Canadian private equity management firm Clairvest Group. The company is yet to announce the partners in its consortium.

An integrated resort is a property that commonly features a hotel, entertainment venues, restaurants, and a casino. Wakayama, Yokohama, Nagasaki, and Osaka are currently in contention to host Japan’s three casino resorts.

The prefecture didn’t have much choice in its final selection, with Clairvest the only contender after the withdrawal of Suncity Holdings Japan Co. Ltd last month. The private equity firm’s plan includes an “initial investment” of JPY770bn (US$4.3bn) to construct the 596,000-square-meter casino resort.

Governor Nisaka said he estimates the opening of the IR will create 14,000 new jobs and bring in JPY260bn (US$2.6bn) per year.

What is the Clairvest blueprint?

Built on an artificial island called Wakayama Marina City, Clairvest’s resort follows a theme of “the country of woods and water.” It includes a hotel with 2,700 rooms, conference space with capacity for 6,000 attendees, an esports arena, amusement attractions, and a casino. The company has not yet confirmed the exact size or details of the casino’s interior.

Clairvest’s plan scored 656 points out of a possible 1,000

According to the prefecture’s local government, Clairvest’s plan scored 656 points out of a possible 1,000 in the selection process. In contrast, Suncity Holdings’s plan received 720 points before it pulled out of the race, meaning the company would have won the bid had it remained in the competition.

With its chosen operator now decided, Wakayama needs to apply to the national government for the right to host the IR. Officials have confirmed the prefecture intends to apply by April 28, 2022. Clairvest has proposed an official resort launch date of Autumn 2027.

The race heats up elsewhere

Wakayama represents the first of Japan’s prefectures or cities to announce a winning integrated casino resort partner. However, the race is heating up in Osaka, Yokohama, and Nagasaki as selection processes near their conclusions.

Like Wakayama, Osaka has an easy decision to make with only one consortium led by MGM Resorts still in contention to develop its IR. The US-based casino operator and its partner ORIX were the only companies to register during the prefecture’s initial recruitment process in February 2020.

just Genting Singapore and Melco Resorts have qualified for a Request for Proposals

Meanwhile, Yokohama has two operators to choose from. The government announced on Monday that just Genting Singapore and Melco Resorts have qualified for a Request for Proposals. Yokohama will now accept those proposals until June 11, after which a successful candidate will be chosen.

The Nagasaki government has the most difficult decision on its hands with three consortiums left in the race, down from five at the beginning of the year. The companies vying for the IR include Casinos Austria, Niki Chau Fwu (Parkview) Group, and Oshidori-Mohegan. Nagasaki plans to choose and announce the successful candidate in August.



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