Hokkaido to be location of Japan’s first casino?
Northern island deemed to be “the best location” for an IT (Integrated Resort).
City officials of Tomakomai, Rusutsu and Kushiro used the opportunity of a public hearing held in Sapporo on Friday to push for the establishment of an IR in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.
A prominent speaker, identified in the 北海道新聞, Hokkaidō Shinbun only as a gaming industry representative, was quoted as saying, “Hokkaido is the best location for an IR. It possesses the resources to really satisfy the guests.”
As has been the case with other public hearings in Japan, the Sapporo event appears to have been tightly managed by the government, with only about fifty people allowed into the room. Again, the government side was represented by Makoto Nakagawa, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion.
Although opinion surveys show overwhelming opposition to the establishment of casinos in all regions of Japan, these public hearings appear to have been designed to marginalize voices of protest. Of the 13 individuals and groups allowed to speak at the Sapporo hearing, 11 of them were IR advocates and only two were opponents. Could this mean Hokkaido maybe become the home of Japan’s first casino? With direct flights to Sapporo Chitose from all major Asian cities it might not seem like such a bad choice.
Hokkaido is unique in the sense that three different municipalities within the prefecture are expressing interest in hosting an IR: =city, Kushiro city, and Rusutsu village. Rusutsu is the closest ski resort to Niseko and could really expand the already booming tourism in the area to attract tear round visitors to the IR.