In an explosive development just two days after the three remaining candidates gave their final presentations to develop and operate an IR at Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebo City, Nagasaki, leading candidate Oshidori International Development has dramatically withdrawn from the race.
Announcing its withdrawal via a press release, Oshidori said, Unless there are certain changes to the developmental and operational rules imposed by the Nagasaki Prefecture, and unless the RFP process is conducted in an ethical manner, [Oshidori] is withdrawing from participating in the RFP for an IR in Nagasaki.
Oshidori, which had been leading a consortium alongside US tribal gaming operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, cited the political environment in Nagasaki, stating, The restrictive and unreasonable rules imposed by the Nagasaki Prefecture make it impossible for Oshidori to conduct business in a prudent and efficient manner.
In an even more concerning development for Nagasaki and arguably Japans IR industry as a whole, the company hinted at a tainted IR process.
Oshidori has encountered several incidents that make it question whether there have been serious ethical irregularities in the RFP process, and it is only interested in participating in a process that has the highest integrity, and that is professional, transparent and based on merit, it said.
Oshidori did thank the people of Nagasaki, saying the company expresses its gratitude to the local community and to all the people involved for their support and cooperation towards Oshidoris participation in Nagasakis IR process.
Oshidori is known to be a cash-rich company which had made a major financial commitment to its IR bid in Nagasaki. They had also hired several high-profile executives who have worked at the highest levels of the IR industry in Las Vegas for decades. In a recent objective assessment of the three candidates in Nagasaki, IAG had concluded that Oshidori presented the best opportunity for development of a successful IR in Nagasaki.
Casinos Austria and NIKI Chyau (Parkview) Group are the remaining candidates in Nagasaki.
Independent sources have told IAG there are behind the scenes machinations at the highest levels of the Nagasaki government, specifically designed to aid one of Oshidoris competitors.
Oshidori is just the latest high-profile withdrawal from the Japan IR race following the departure of global-level IR operators Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, and industry-leading VIP gaming operator Suncity. A host of other candidates, while not officially withdrawing, have gone totally silent in Japan, including Galaxy Entertainment Group, SJM, Bloomberry and Hard Rock.
Government officials in Japan promoting the IR industry must be worried. After more than 20 companies from around the globe initially expressed interest in the Japan IR opportunity, only six remain in the four candidate locations, and only three of those six have any IR experience in Asia.
The question many have been whispering now needs to be asked loud and clear, Has the IR process in Japan failed?