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Tamaki victory likely closes door on potential Okinawa IR bid


The victory of the All-Okinawa candidate for governor, Denny Tamaki, would appear to bring to an end any chance that Okinawa Prefecture will join the race to host an IR.

Tamaki was the designated successor to the late Governor Takeshi Onaga, who in 2014 turned against the pro-casino policies of his predecessor on the argument that basing the prefecture’s economy on the gambling business would be below the dignity of the Okinawan people.

Tamaki himself fiercely fought against the IR Implementation Act as an opposition lawmaker, and is highly unlikely to alter his anti-casino stance.

For many months in advance of Sunday’s election, conservative politicians and elements of the business community had been predicting that the All-Okinawa forces would be overthrown this year and that the previous IR plans could be revived.

Among IR operators, 500 .com held two events in Okinawa in recent years, with CEO Zhengming Pan and his potential partner, CEO Kevin McGowen of Les Ambassadeurs Club, pitching their casino ideas to Okinawan businessmen and politicians as recently as July.

Moreover, just a few days ago the Nikkei Asian Review quoted Steven Tight of Caesars as saying, "It would be a fascinating opportunity for us if the governor were to support an integrated resort, because Okinawa would be a tremendous destination for tourism.”

These hopes are now unlikely to be realized—at least in the first round of IR construction.

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