Japan Introduces Responsible Gambling Bill

Japan Introduces Responsible Gambling Bill

Japan’s bicameral legislature, known as The National Diet, consists of an upper House of Councillors and a lower House of Representatives, with the latter having started discussing the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill last week.

Being debated is the regulatory framework required in order to set up an efficient and well functioning casino market in the country, and according to analysts the process is proceeding smoothly and should fly through the current parliamentary session due to end on June 20th.

A few days earlier, the House of Representatives also passed a new problem gambling bill focusing on countermeasures to tackle possible problem gambling and addiction concerns that might result from Japan’s recently approved casino market. This bill has since been sent to the the House of Councillors for further debate before being voted upon once more.

Integrated Resorts Bill

In late 2016, Japan legalized casinos, but before these venues officially become legal in the country a piece of legislation called the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill still needs to be passed by the Diet. According to the bill, three casino resorts will be permitted to be built in Japan with no more than 3% of their total size designated to casino gambling, with the resorts then paying 30 percent on their gross gaming revenue (GGR) by way of taxes. It also sets a 24-hour access fee of JPY6,000 (US$54) for locals entering casinos, whilst imposing a limit on them of three visits per week, or 10 per month.

Encouragingly, agreement on these and other major issues have already been reached by the ruling coalition, and all being well, the legislation should be passed soon, paving the way for the first integrated resort to open in Japan by 2024.

Problem Gambling Measures

Historically, Japan had long resisted calls to allow casinos over fears that a legalized gambling market could result in a spike in the number of people becoming gambling addicts. Concerns were further highlighted by a survey conducted by the Health Ministry in October 2017 that estimated 3.6% of the country’s residents, or 3.2 million people, were already believed to be addicted to certain types of gambling games.

In order to pave the way for the implementation of the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill, the Japanese Government has subsequently sworn to everything possible to keep its people safe, and ensure problem gamblers will receive all the help they may need in dealing with their addiction. This then led to the coalition government, consisting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, as well as the opposition Nippon Ishin no Kai party, submitting a problem gambling piece of legislation to the Lower House last week.

Amongst the measures proposed in the bill is the establishment of a special commission under the Chief Cabinet Secretary responsible for proposing directives designed to tackle problem gambling. These include providing social welfare support for gambling addicts, and the setting up of specialized medical facilities for addicts.

$15 Billion Industry

Morgan Stanley has estimated that the Japanese casino market will to be worth $15 billion per annum by 2025, making it bigger than Nevada which last year generated $11.5 billion in revenue, and second only to Macau whose market was worth $33 billion last year.

Needless to say, most of the major casino operators are extremely interested in applying for a casino license from the government, with one of them being MGM Resorts International, who is eager to secure potential local partners to help operate an integrated resorts in the country. If successful, James Murren, chief executive of MGM Resorts International, said that the casino will definitely be in keeping with Japanese culture, and “designed with Japanese architect, outfitted with Japanese interior designers and artists, and powered by Japanese technology.”

Murren also said that integrated resorts in japan can act as a powerful economic driver for the country, and help attract visitors from all across Asia.

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