Entrance Fee for Japanese Gamblers

Japan’s resident gamblers will have to pay an entrance fee to get into the country’s casinos.

According to the Japan Times,  the county’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Buddhist-backed Komeito, reached an agreement, Tuesday, on a bill that requires Japan’s residents to pay an entry fee of ¥6,000 ($57, £40.46) whenever they visit one of the country’s casinos. The newspaper says the fee will not apply to foreign visitors.

The bill is expected to be submitted later this month by the Japanese government to the Japanese National Diet, its bicameral legislature. The Diet is composed of a lower house called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, known as the House of Councillors. The government is hoping to enact the bill by the end of the current parliament session on June 20.

If parliament passes the bill, it would also see the establishment of integrated resorts including casinos set to open around the middle of 2020. Whether or not the bill will pass is open to question, as opposition parties and members of the public are against casino gambling in the country.

Japan’s current casino situation

At the end of 2016, Japan’s parliament passed a law that legalized casinos. The legislation brought an end to 15 years of political argument over the issue and paved the way for casinos to be integrated into hotels, conference rooms, and shopping centers throughout Japan.

According to a report in Fortune, citing the Daiwa Research Institute, just three casinos could generate nearly $10bn in net profit each year. As a result, international gaming companies such as MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and Caesars Entertainment are keen to invest money into a Japanese casino. In October, MGM’s chief executive told Reuters that it would be happy to put $10bn into a casino in Japan.

MGM Resorts has also pegged Japan’s casino gambling industry at $15bn; however, others have put it as high as $25bn.

Even though casinos won’t be operating in the country for a few more years, the government is hopeful that if the recent bill passes, it will attract more overseas visitors and boost regional economies outside of the capital.

The two parties have agreed to build the casinos in three locations and to impose restrictions on nationals who reside in Japan. Restrictions would include only visiting the facilities three times a week for a total of 10 times a month. Floor space would also be limited to 3% of the total floor space of integrated resort facilities, and a 30% tax would be collected on revenues generated by the resorts.

Japan’s gambling addiction problem

Yet, while the development of legislation on the operation of entertainment facilities is underway, gambling addiction remains a serious concern in Japan.

According to a government survey published last September, an estimated 3.2 million, or 3.6% of Japanese adults are suspected of suffering from an addiction to gambling. The survey also found that around 700,000, or 0.8%, are potential gambling addicts, with many already addicted to pachinko pinball, a type of pinball game that originates in Japan.

Worries about whether this could create more gambling addicts prompted the disagreement between the LDP and Komeito over the entrance fee. The LDP had initially called for ¥5,000 ($47) in an attempt to make casinos more accessible; however, Komeito was pushing for ¥8,000 ($75) before they finally settled on ¥6,000.

If successful, the ¥8,000 fee would have been similar to that of Singapore, which saw two casinos opening in 2010,  making it the world’s third-biggest gambling center after Macau and Las Vegas.

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