Hokkaido jockeys for position in the race for integrated resorts

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Harumi Takahashi, governor of Hokkaido, Japan’s second biggest island and largest prefecture, has this week backed the notion of the region becoming home to an integrated casino resort.

Takahashi spoke out in favour of IRs, urging the central government to issue as many as five resort licences across Japan.

Hokkaido is home to a number of competing ventures in the race to be awarded one of what is likely to be a small number of IR licences when Japan does eventually regulate.

Interest has come from across the prefecture, with Kitahiroshima city and Rusutsu village lining up along side the larger cities of Tomakomai and Kushiro as potential bidders – although Kushiro mayor Hiroya Ebina last week suggested the city would give up its own bid and back the Tomakomai proposal to ensure Hokkaido has the best chance of success as a region.

Progress in Japan remains slow and deliberate, however, with the government continuing to consult on the IR Implementation Bill, the keystone in a series of legislative moves that would pave the way for casino resorts in the country.