Wakayama’s IR dream is in tatters after the prefectural assembly voted against the prefecture’s area development plan on Wednesday.
The final count was 18 for and 22 against the plan, with reasons given including a lack of transparency around funding. It also leaves Wakayama and its preferred operator partner, Clairvest Neem Ventures, almost no time to adjust their area development plan given the deadline for submitting final applications to the central government is 28 April – just eight days away.
Speaking with IAG shortly after the vote, a Wakayama government source said, “At this time there are no plans to take further action before the 28 April deadline. At this rate it is likely the [plan will be abandoned].”
The biggest issue raised by opponents was procurement of the JPY 470 billion (US$3.7 billion) planned for the initial investment in the IR.
The prefecture explained at the prefectural assembly special committee on 19 April that the funds were arranged, but many on the council voiced doubt over the certainty of the funding plan.
The operator attempted to explain that the basic consent forms for funds procurement could not be publicly disclosed, but the committee vote that followed resulted in five for and 10 against submitting the application to the national government.
In the end they were unable to thwart council member concerns over the fact that Clairvest could not produce a commitment letter from Credit Suisse, which it claimed as the major financer, and the lack of transparency regarding the names of Japanese bank financiers.
Should Wakayama withdraw as expected, it would leave only two locations bidding for IR licenses in Osaka and Nagasaki. It also thwarts yet another Asian foray for US casino giant Caesars Entertainment Inc, which was named as the project’s casino operator last September and later revealed to be a 5% stakeholder, despite initially stating its involvement was “with no capital commitment.”