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“Yokohama IR as good as dead for next seven years," as anti-IR candidate elected Mayor

Takeharu Yamanaka has been elected the new Mayor of Yokohama. The election results have halted plans for the city’s own integrated resort (IR), as the candidate doesn’t support the IR initiative.

“We will issue a formal statement soon making it clear that Yokohama will not make a hosting bid,” he said.

Yamanaka campaigned on a promise to repeal plans to host an IR in Yokohama and won by nearly 34% of votes, clearing the 25% threshold of the number of ballots needed to avoid a second round.

The election results didn’t come as a complete surprise. While the IR initiative was supported by some members of the local authority, many people in the city were against the idea of a casino, with boycotts and petitions to stop the process.

“Yokohama IR is as good as dead at least for the next seven years,” said Daniel Cheng, a gaming and hospitality expert with experience in Japan.

The city had two remaining potential partners for the IR, Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Genting Singapore, but with this clear sign the city will withdraw from the race, the companies are left without a partner in Japan.

Currently, only three cities have maintained their bids: Osaka, Wakayama and Nagasaki. Osaka has partnered with MGM Resorts International and Orix Corp consortium, Wakayama works with Clairvest, and Nagasaki chose Casinos Austria as its partner.

In total, Japan’s Government wanted to give out only three IR licences throughout the whole country, but with so many cities dropping out of the race, it’s now unclear if the remaining candidates will all receive permits or if there will be a change in plans.

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