Local news outlets reported that Hokkaido island may not be able to host one of the first three integrated resorts in Japan because of environmental problems.

According to local media, Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki said:

A decision on whether the province will claim the right to host an integrated resort with a casino at a previously proposed location in Tomakomai will be made by the end of the year.

Governor Suzuki's comments were reportedly made in response to concerns recently expressed by Hokkaido residents about the environmental impact of the integrated resort, which, in addition to the casino, will include conference rooms, a large hotel and various services.

Tomakomai site, established by city officials, is located near lake Utonai, known as a wildlife sanctuary and a place on the list relating to important wetlands of international importance. Residents expressed concern about the proximity of the proposed casino to the lake.

A group of citizens opposed to the construction of the casino has collected more than 20,000 signatures on a petition that will be submitted to the city administration.

A recent survey of Tomakomai residents commissioned by the Hokkaido government found that two-thirds of all respondents expressed various concerns about the possibility of an integrated resort with a casino in the city.

On the other hand, large business lobbies from across the Prefecture supported Tomakomai's casino proposal. In addition, the city Assembly passed a resolution last month in support of the proposed casino resort development plan in the hope that a project of this magnitude would create new jobs and economic opportunities.

No decision has been made yet

Suzuki's Governor told reporters last Thursday that they had not reached a conclusion on whether the province would offer the option of hosting one of the three casino resorts, and that a decision would be made "after due consideration." It also emerged that a decision is likely to be announced sometime next month.

After the Japanese diet approved a bill to introduce resort complexes last summer outlining the principles that will define the nascent casino industry, Wakayama Prefecture, Nagasaki Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture along with the city of Osaka and most recently Yokohama expressed interest in hosting an integrated resort with a casino.

The Central government must choose three seats. It will accept formal applications from interested cities and preferred developers between January 2020 and mid-2021. We wrote earlier at Casinoz that developers of resorts with casinos will be selected by the host cities and prefectures. Tokyo, Chiba and Nagoya have also said they are interested in bidding for the opportunity to host the casino. Japan's first integrated resorts are expected to open their doors in the mid-2020s.

With regard to the Hokkaido proposal, as concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of such an institution, the Prefecture may not be able to prepare its application in time, as it usually takes about three years to conduct an environmental impact review.

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