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Japan Finally Passes Gambling Legislation

- July 23, 2018 By Oliver Young -

Problems on the horizon in Japan

Gambling legalization bill finally passed in Japan.

Japan has finally passed the gambling legislation that allows three land-based casinos to be licensed. The process has been very long and tiresome, but the parliament did manage to see it through on Friday. With the law being given green light, resorts that have hotels, shopping malls and conference rooms would be able to also operate casinos.

Those following the process know that the works on the second gambling legislation started back in April 2017. At the time, the point of the law that received the most attention was the fact that Japan would probably have its first casinos in 2020. However, more than a year later, people became tired of the bumps in the road and started worrying that the gambling law wouldn’t be passed at all.

That changes now as the House of Councilors officially approved the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill. The approval comes at a time when the Japanese public is generally against expansion of gambling in the country.

Japan to Get Three Large-Scale Gambling Venues

With the gambling bill approved, Japan is expected to get three large-scale gambling venues in its cities; however, the exact cities are yet to be chosen. So far, it is known that several Japanese cities including Wakayama and Osaka have shown interest to host a casino resort.

However, after the first such venue is established, there’s a seven-year period of waiting announced before any other IRs are allowed by the government. Moreover, according to the predicted timeline, not only the first licenses aren’t expected to be issued until 2020, but also due to the seriousness of the projects it’s most likely to see the first casino in Japan open around 2025. This means that a decade may pass until gambling in Japan is expanded as planned.

Those getting a license will, nevertheless, have to meet many strict requirements in order to be able to operate a casino in the country. For example, the casino floor shouldn’t be more than 3% of the venue’s total footprint. Plus, there’s a large 30% tax rate imposed on gaming revenue. Furthermore, international operators would probably be able to obtain a minority partner status only in joint ventures with Japanese companies.

Japanese Public Still Against Gambling in the Country

Even with such strict regulations, the Japanese public is still against gambling in the country. Public opinion is that casinos would increase the rate of problem-gambling in Japan and there have been numerous protests against the regulation.

One of the ways the government tried to deal with problem-gambling among residents was limiting the number of weekly and monthly visits for Japanese players. Namely, once the casinos are open, Japanese guests will be able to enter them three times a week and 10 times per month. Moreover, while foreign players won’t have to pay entrance fee, Japanese residents will have to spare some cash for this purpose as well.

Japan is a country with a high rate of gambling addiction; namely, the country’s gambling addiction rate is set at 3.6%, which is significantly higher than the one in other countries such as France (1.2%) and Italy (0.4%).

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