Luck be a lady tomorrow night.

Many in Osaka are eagerly awaiting the World Expo in 2025, which will bring some of the globe’s more amazing technological wonders to the city. But that’s not all that’s in store for the city. Once the refurbished artificial island of Yumeshima is finished hosting the event, it will likely become the site of Japan’s first casino resort.

▼ Yumeshima

I say “likely” because, on 5 September, it was learned that the completion date had been pushed back by nearly a year from late 2029 to the fall of 2030. This is leading some to wonder if more delays won’t be on the horizon in the years leading up to the proposed opening.

On the same day, Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City announced the completion of a draft agreement covering the construction, operation, and other arrangements for the resort. When the agreement is approved by the national government and formalized, the operators will receive Japan’s first-ever casino licenses.

However, part of the reason for the delay is due to a slower-than-expected response from the national government for a previous approval, so the completion of this step may also happen later than their expected target of the end of September.

▼ I hope it is fast. I’m dying to hit the Uno tables again…

Nevertheless, developers are wasting no time and plan to begin the groundwork this fall, while the Expo facilities on the island are also still being constructed. The resort facilities will begin construction in the spring of 2025, just as the Expo is getting underway. If all goes according to plan, the integrated resort will be finished in 2030 and mainly run by the Japanese arm of MGM Resorts International and Japanese conglomerate Orix.

The news was disappointing to many online. At the moment the casino seems intended for visitors from abroad and there will likely be restrictions on use by citizens much like they have in South Korea, but many still see it as a good way for the economy to cash in on the skyrocketing tourism the country has been experiencing recently.

“That’s so far away…”
“I want that casino to soak up tourist’s money as soon as possible.”
“You know there’s going to be more delays in the future too.”
“2030 isn’t that far away, really.”
“So, what they’re saying is it will be ready in 2035.”
“I’m definitely going to go! I got a lot of debts to pay off.”
“I’d like to try it, but I probably won’t live long enough to see it.”
“Why don’t they build a nuclear power plant there instead to reduce CO2 emissions?”

Building a nuclear power plant on off-shore reclaimed land in an earthquake prone region is probably not the best alternative, but it is an example of considerable anti-casino sentiment among residents in Japan that also exists. There are worries that such an establishment will exploit those with addictive personalities and bring about a slew of other social ills.

The local governments and investors seem to believe in the idea though and are betting 1.27 trillion yen (US$8.6B) on it paying off. The rest of us will just have to wait until 2030 or longer to find out if a casino resort is the economic shot in the arm Japan needs or a big slippery slope to all kinds of problems.

Source: Asahi Shiimbun,
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Wikipedia/黄犬太郎, Pakutaso
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