Yokohama Pulls Out of Japanese Casino Race

casino.org -- Sep 11
Japan’s second-biggest city, Yokohama, has officially withdrawn its bid to host a casino resort.

The city was once a big favorite to be chosen as a location for one of three integrated resorts under government legislation passed in 2018 to legalize casino gaming in Japan.

But the writing has been on the wall for Yokohama since the surprise election of its new mayor, Dr Takeharu Yamanaka, who opposed the casino process.

The data scientist and former Yokohama City University professor has no prior political experience. But his work on analysing vaccine efficacy on coronavirus variants is what sold him to voters, suggesting that casinos are not high on the list for a populace prioritizing safety during the pandemic.

Former mayor Fumiko Hayashi declared Yokohama’s interest in an integrated resort in 2019. But her continued support of the casino project contributed to her downfall at the recent election.

The new mayor said at his first policy speech at a local assembly Friday that the city government would immediately halt the ongoing process of bidding for the integrated resort “in response to the voices of citizens opposed to the integrated resort project.”

The process itself has been halted because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the government has said it plans to pick the three locations between October and April next year.

Now that Yokohama is out of the picture, just three prospective hosts remain: the city of Osaka and Osaka Prefecture, Wakayama Prefecture, and Nagasaki Prefecture. Each has teamed up with an international casino operator on their respective bids.