The first IR event in Wakayama prefecture brought a surprisingly big turnout, with over 300 representatives from around 200 companies in attendance. The event was also the first IR-related event officially supported by a Japanese prefecture and chamber of commerce, meaning that mainstream Japanese media were also covering the proceedings.
Although the content was a bit light compared to those that have been seen in Tokyo or Osaka, it was suitable for a location still taking their first big steps in understanding what an IR would bring to the community. The attendees for sure went home thinking that an IR in Wakayama is a real possibility, and there are now major IR operators willing to confirm that idea.
Taking part in the event moderating the operator panel with Solaire, Barriere, and Mohegan was definitely a surreal experience. Companies that were customers just a few months back are now in Wakayama vying for a license. The Japan movement has come a long way and I still remember talking about how the process is taking so long during a conversation at Solaire just 2 years ago.
Time will tell with how Wakayama will make their push for an IR and which operator will emerge as clear favorites. There is also the fact that it is not yet clear how the general public feel about the idea. However, one thing is for sure is that the local business community is very interested in how they can take part in its development. The prefecture, city, and chamber of commerce are also on the same page, which is one big hurdle that Wakayama has cleared. Big ups to the prefecture, chamber of commerce, speakers and HOGO/AGB for making this all happen!