Osaka officials confirmed on Thursday that they pushed back the request-for-proposal (RFP) deadline for Integrated Resort (IR) project by another six months, a move that is expected to delay the opening of a casino in the city until 2028.
Now, after the extension in the RFP deadline, interested private sector partners have until January 2021 to tender their proposals for the envisioned integrated resort project in the Osaka region. Previously, officials had set the RFP deadline by the end of July this year.
The pushing back of the RFP deadline and the resultant possible delay in the opening of casino in the city until 2028 mean that the city will not be able to meet World Expo Casino goal. Originally, Osaka city officials wanted to open a casino before the beginning of World Expo 2025 that has been scheduled to be hosted in the city. But repeated postponements of the RFP deadline have made that goal just impossible. It is not the first time when RFP deadline for the casino project has been pushed back as city officials had previously also postponed it.
While the officials did not reveal why they decided to push back the deadline for private partners to submit their RFPs, industry experts are of the view that the spread of the deadly corona virus pandemic across Japan could be the reason behind the decision. It is worth-mentioning here that corona virus forced authorities to issue emergency orders, implementing lockdown throughout the nation, to prevent further transmission of the deadly virus.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already lifted the emergency order in Osaka, while the state of emergency in Hokkaido and Tokyo came to an end around a week ago. Nevertheless, strict health safety measures and guidelines continue to make traveling for business easier said than done throughout the country.
Joji Kokuryo, managing director of Tokyo-based Bay City Ventures, said, “Assuming that travel restrictions are eased enough within the next two months, there is just enough time for local governments to select their IR partner and come up with a reasonably sound business plan to submit to the central government.”
Some industry experts are of the view that Osaka officials might have postponed the deadline in an attempt to create a more aggressive and competitive RFP process. Presently, merely one consortium has come forward to submit a qualified application, namely MGM Resorts International, which has teamed up with a Japanese financial services group known as Orix.