Japanese Casino Regulation Edges Closer
Casino legalisation in Japan is in consideration due to an Integrated Resort (IR) implantation bill which was passed by legislators last week. Casino’s across the globe can hold onto their seats while Japan considers if becoming part of the world’s third largest economy is worth it. This could potentially double tourism to 60 million visitors and place Japan in the top five tourist destinations.
Japan favours the economic and image lift that IR’s bring, especially by the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. However, the fear of problematic gambling addiction remains with losses on Pachislot machines and Pachinko (similar to Pinball) were over a hefty $30 billion last year. There are two thirds of the Japanese population that oppose casino legalisation, although this has lightened due to the IR’s non-gaming features.
There are a few restrictions which come with Japan’s IR bill. These include casino size limits similar to Singapore with a 3% total floor area and a US$55 (6,000 yen) entry tax for residents. Only three IR licenses in Japan are allowed and are distributed in different locations. It has been reported that casino brands are willing to allocate US$10 billion for IR’s in cities such as Osaka and Tokyo. This has caused more fear with word that Japan won’t have competitive pressure which is vital to excel in the gaming world.
The Director of Government Affairs Brendan Bussmann says that tourism and investment would surge significantly if there were multiple operators on a single site. For example, on the Tokyo/Yokohama area or Yumeshima Island in Osaka to form an Osaka strip. This way, instead of one operator contributing $10 billion to a single IR, multiple operators could come together staying within size limits. Bussmann estimates this would rise the $10 billion well and above.
President Chris Gordon, the Wynn Development President highlighted that Wynn Resorts desires to implement an entertainment district. In his speech at the Japan Gaming Congress presentation, Gordon implied that two or three US$3 billion IR’s surrounded by a cluster of Japanese enterprises would create an amazing local and tourism economy. However, the legislation has upper hand and IR’s shall be operated as a single unit. The bill will not authorize split licences and operations by different entities within the same area.
It appears that these Japanese legislations will remain, as it is feared a gaming hub like Las Vegas could create nationwide social problems. However, Fred Gushin, the Managing Director of Spectrum Gaming believes legislation change is possible in the future due to shifts in technology and public perception.