Japan Gaming Congress

2019 May 16-17
Conrad Tokyo, Japan


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Japan Gaming Congress

02 Apr 2019

Osaka Votes To Decide Casino Question, But Not The Big One

Muhammad Cohen
On Sunday, voters in Osaka will choose a new mayor and governor in elections that carry strong implications for the effort to obtain a license for a casino complex in Japan’s third largest city. But the results won’t address the most basic question looming behind the drive for a so-called integrated resort in Osaka Bay with a multi-billion dollar price tag.

On March 7, Osaka Prefecture Governor Ichiro Matsui and Osaka City Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura announced that they would resign and run for each other’s jobs under the banner of their Osaka Ishin no Kai (Osaka Restoration) party. They seek to swap jobs because if they ran for the same positions their terms would still expire respectively in November and December this year. By swapping jobs, they each will get a full four year term, provided they win.

The election centers on Osaka Ishin no Kai’s signature issue, merging the Osaka prefecture and city governments into a single entity, a metropolitan government, the same structure as in Tokyo. Voters most recently rejected the idea in 2015, and Ishin triggered a double election after that defeat. In early March, Ishin’s erstwhile coalition partner Komeito blocked efforts for a new referendum, leading to this twin vote.

Japan’s national ruling Liberal Democratic Party opposes Ishin’s so-called Metropolitan Plan and, after attempts to recruit celebrities failed, nominated veteran local politicians Tadakazu Konishi for governor and Akira Yanagimoto for mayor. Aside from the Metropolitan Plan, LDP and Ishin agree on nearly everything – except integrated resorts.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, LDP has spearheaded casino legalization nationally. Legislation passed last July enables creation of IR, entertainment complexes with casinos, that could cost US$10 billion or more. Osaka is a leading candidate for one of the three IR licenses available in this initial phase. So, naturally, the LDP nominees in Osaka favor an IR...


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Muhammad Cohen is speaking at JgC 2019 and will be discussing the Integrated resort economy of the future. 

You can read more about his session and see our full conference agenda below:

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