Yokohama city flags against referendum on casino policy

Yokohama city flags against referendum on casino policy

A Yokohama city council committee has flagged its opposition to a draft ordinance proposing to trigger a community referendum on whether the metropolis (pictured) should pursue a casino resort, according to information collated by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent. The council’s formal vote on the matter is via a plenary meeting on Friday (January 8).

At Thursday’s meeting of a committee tasked with Yokohama’s general affairs and finance, 10 members were in attendance. Six represented collectively the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and it coalition partner Komeito, with all voting against the draft ordinance for a referendum regarding an integrated resort (IR), as such schemes are known in Japan.

It had been reported that several anti-casino community campaigns had by November managed to collect over 205,000 signatures – about six percent of Yokohama’s 3.72-million population – seeking such a local poll on the IR topic. The tally of names was said to greatly exceed the number required to trigger a move for such a poll.

The Yokohama city council constitutes 86 seats. The Liberal Democratic Party currently has 36 seats and Komei 16.

Up to three casino resorts will be permitted in Japan in a first phase of market liberalisation. A December 18 announcement by the country’s government – the same day it confirmed the national basic policy on IRs – reiterated the central authorities would start accepting local-government submissions for the right to host a resort from October 1, 2021, with a closing date of April 28, 2022.

If Friday’s vote on a referendum goes as expected for the pro-casino lobby, the city would proceed to a request-for-proposal (RFP) process to solicit business plans from candidates interested to developing an IR scheme there.

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