Options are starting to narrow for a Hokkaido Integrated Resort (IR) bid. Tomakomai City has been identified as the preferred site for an IR by an advisory panel to Hokkaido’s prefecture government.
GGRAsia reports that this does not confirm Hokkaido will be confirming a casino bid for Tomakomai, but rather that it has “priority status” as a casino host site. It received this status due to its proximity to the airport and the tourist hub of Sapporo.
Japan is set to award three sites IR licenses later this year. By designating Tomakomai City as a preferred location for one of these bids, Hokkaido is delivering great news to several potential IR partners, and starting to close the door on others.
Earlier this month, Hard Rock made their plans known for a Tomakomai City IR, with monorail access to the airport, hotels, theatres, spas, and a focus on authentic indigenous experiences. Caesars has also announced their intention to build in Tomakomai, focusing instead of the job creation their IR will provide, and their history of collaboration with local government.
Late last year, Rush Street also announced plans to build in the city. They hope to transform Hokkaido into a global travel destination, while creating a sustainable and inclusive resort for the prefecture.
The “Hokkaido IR Showcase” held earlier this month also saw participation from Mohegan Sun, Melco Resorts and SJM.
Tomakomai getting “priority status” comes as bad news to Kamori Kanko. At the beginning of January, that operator declared their intention to build an IR for Rusutsu Village, with a focus on winter activities like skiing. Rusutsu is a bit further out from the airport, so if that will be an important part of Hokkaido’s decision, Kamori Kanko can start packing away their presentations.
The competition for IR bids will remain fierce overall. Osaka is seen as a practical slam dunk for one of the three licenses, with Yokohama and Tokyo also in the running. Hokkaido will be hoping that with the international attention they have been receiving from suitors for Tomakomai City, they can edge one of those cities out.