The Japan integrated casino report bill has cleared the bar only recently, stamped by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government. The endorsement by the government has naturally led to a broader debate, with prefectures weighing the pros and cons of hosting gambling events. Asia has long been debating legalizing gambling under various forms.
As part of the authorization bill, three casino resorts will see the light of day in yet-to-be-determined locations across Japan. Osaka has been primed as one of the front runners to host a gambling haven.
Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui spoke to the press this week, saying that Osaka could open its first casino resort by 2023 or 2024 if legal matters were settled.
While the bill enjoys endorsement from the cabinet, it has yet to make an appearance in the Diet and be held for a vote. In all likelihood, the decision should come by the end of the session which concludes on 20 June.
Does Japan Have Gamblers in Disguise?
The Prefecture of Osaka seems keen on the idea of welcoming a large-scale casino projects. As one of Japan’s most densely populated and modernized areas, home to some 19 million people, it is understandable why the investment would make sense.
Local authorities have chosen the island of Yumeshima in Osaka Bay as a possible venue for the future project. However, to launch the initiative, more sources of investment will have to be found.
Three prefectures are now floated as possible recipients of casinos, including Nagasaki and Hokkaido, The Japan Times reports.
However, there are more challenges to be addressed. Gambling is not as readily endorsed by citizens. Some 65% are against venues dedicated to gambling, recreational or professional.
In other words, launching a casino project will also necessitate a fair bit of political capital and in all likelihood, it may sweep a few officials off if things are met with sterner opposition as the numbers suggest.
Meanwhile Talks of Investment Continue
Opposition or otherwise, officials in Hokkaido will seek an initial investment of $2.75 billion. Presently, a number of established gambling companies, including Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, and Melco Resorts, have shown interest to obtain licenses and help run the day-to-day tasks of a potential future gambling project in Osaka.
If regulators agree on a working solution for the resort, and investment goals are reached, multiple prefectures in Japan may see their casino resorts open doors in the conceivable future.
Not necessarily, but things could be rather fraught. The bill was also introduced in a bid to bolster tourism in Japan, which has been expanding at a respectable rate.
Meanwhile, the bill in its present form would enable people to visit commercial gambling properties in exchange for a fee estimated at $55 a month. Residents may only carry out 10 trips a month if the law is enacted in its present form.
The legalization of gambling will also entail other meaningful and demanding changes. Much like in the United Kingdom, for example, the government will have to ensure that addictive gambling practices are nipped in the bud and that casinos and operators comply with the law and maintain their integrity.