On November 29 of last year, Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki announced that his prefecture would not be participating in the IR race, citing the several years it would take to complete environmental preparations at the Tomakomai site.
However, parts of the Japanese media are reporting that, in fact, not only is Hokkaido actually still in the race, but that it is being sized up as one of the three eventual winners.
One of the mysteries of the last month or so has been the behavior of Hard Rock Japan. Why are they continuing their public relations campaigns in Hokkaido after the governor’s announcement? And why have they just hired the very prominent Akira Kurita as their chief public affairs officer for a project that, ostensibly, is already dead?
It is reported that on December 18, Governor Suzuki gathered four North American IR operators – presumably Hard Rock, Rush Street, Mohegan and Clairvest – and personally informed them that it was his intention to pursue an IR bid at a later date. Then, after the governor left the meeting, another senior prefectural officer told the four operators, in strict confidence, that a plan was afoot within the central government to choose two cities first and then delay the third city’s selection to somewhat later.
Source: Asia Gaming Brief