Osaka drops plan to open casino resort by March 2027

©Kyodo News

Osaka officials have decided to scrap the western Japan city's plan to open a casino resort by March 2027 under the country's liberalized gambling laws, due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.

In 2019, the city of Osaka and Osaka Prefecture set fiscal 2026 as their target, but this will not be mentioned in a soon-to-be adopted policy as a number of companies have fallen behind in their preparations for the project, according to the sources.

The decision comes after the Japanese government postponed its plans to accept formal applications from municipalities vying to host so-called integrated resorts, which incorporate a large hotel, conference rooms and gambling areas. The application period, originally scheduled for January through July, is now slated to begin in October.

The government is planning to select up to three locations where integrated resorts will be permitted to open under legislation that cleared parliament in 2018 to legalize casino gambling in Japan.

The Osaka prefectural and city governments will respectively hold a meeting of senior officials possibly later this week to approve the policy, which sets out details such as the schedule until the casino's planned opening and various conditions for firms involving in its construction, according to the sources.

The policy will not include a specific opening year, but the officials aim to open a hotel and parts of other facilities in stages, the sources said.

So far, Yokohama, located near Tokyo and the second-largest city in Japan by population, and Wakayama and Nagasaki prefectures have declared their intentions to host casinos.