France has withdrawn its bid to host the 2025 World Expo, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire confirmed on Sunday in an interview with local news television channel BFM TV. With the country dropping its bid, there are now three candidates for a host of the 2025 edition of the large international exhibition, with one of those being the Japanese city of Osaka, which is also vying to host one of its homeland’s first casinos.
Mr. Le Marie’s comments came after French weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported that Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had informed the Bureau International des Expositions, which organizes the quinquennial event, that his country would drop its bid over financial concerns.
France (and its capital Paris, in particular) is set to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics. The country has decided that a third large-scale event could put too much pressure on its coffers.
France’s withdrawal from the 2025 World Expo host competition could be good news for Osaka and its own bid to host the major event as well as one of Japan’s first casino resorts. Here it is important to note that the two possibilities have become strongly connected over the past several months.
Osaka’s has proposed to host the 2025 World Expo on the man-made Yumeshima Island. The city is yet to build the necessary infrastructure to the proposed site, but given its artificial nature, city authorities have pointed out that they believe construction work would be completed on time for the world fair.
What Does France’s Withdrawal Mean for Osaka’s Ambitions?
France dropping from the bidding process means that Osaka now has just two competitors in the 2025 World Expo race, the Azerbaijani capital Baku and the Russian city of Ekaterinburg. The Japanese city has also expressed interest in hosting one of Japan’s first integrated resorts with a casino floor.
The Japanese government approved a bill that legalized casino gambling in late 2016. Politicians now need to pass a separate legislative piece that will set the terms, under which the nation’s casino industry will be regulated. It will also determine the preferred locations for the casino resorts. That second casino bill was supposed to be voted on by the end of 2017, but political turmoils that culminated in a snap election in the fall delayed the process.
The Japanese Diet’s ordinary session began today and it is believed that the casino legalization and regulation process is high on the legislature’s agenda.
If Osaka wins one of the casino licenses to be issued as well as the bid for hosting the 2025 World Expo, city authorities will look to open the gambling venue before the start of the world fair. The city will thus have an excellent opportunity to capitalize on what its integrated resort will be offering and attract even greater tourist flow over the course of the World Expo.
As per Japan’s bid for the show, it will take place from May 3 to November 3, 2025. The event is expected to attract 28 million visitors to Osaka, if the city wins the bid. A casino resort with attractions of diverse nature could increase tourism figures significantly.
City officials have previously pointed out that the Yumeshima Island could also host a potential integrated resort, which would mean that the artificially built island could become a major tourism and business center, particularly during the World Expo and the years leading to it.
That potential was spotted by some of the world’s largest casino companies, including Melco Resorts & Entertainment. Lawrence Ho, Chairman of the Hong Kong-headquartered casino developer and operator, said last year in an interview with Bloomberg that Osaka was his preferred location for an integrated resort with a gaming resort, if his company won a casino license.
Last fall, Melco announced its partnership with the 2025 Japan World Expo Committee and its support for Japan and Osaka’s bid to host the event. Several other major gambling operators also confirmed their support, with some of those being Florida-based Hard Rock International and Las Vegas giant MGM Resorts International.
The Bureau International des Expositions will announce the winning bidder for the 2025 World Expo in November 2018. While France’s withdrawal does not necessarily mean good news for Osaka, the fact that the city now has just two competitors in addition to the growing support from major international corporations is certainly at least a big confidence booster.
Robert Johnson is an experienced web author and blogger. He has over three years of experience as a freelance journalist and writer.