Osaka Governor: Japanese Casino Could Open by 2023

Night view of Osaka from Cosmo tower

The governor of Japan’s Osaka prefecture has indicated that the region could have one of the first casinos in the country up and running by 2023.

Legislation expected to pass

The proposed casino is projected to reside on the man-made Yumeshima Island in Osaka Bay two years before the 2025 World Expo, which Osaka is hoping to host, reports the Japan Times.

Today, Japan’s ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), will submit its plan for large-scale casino resorts to parliament. The aim of the casinos is to generate billions of dollars for the country. According to the Japan Times, the cabinet is expected to approve legislation on integrated resorts, including casinos.

Ichiro Matsui, governor of Osaka prefecture, said that political scandals involving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would not unduly delay the bill’s passage: “Discussion of the legislation has been delayed a little bit, but discussion on the contents of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito bill has now wrapped up. So it will be passed in the Diet. Under that assumption, we want to realize a casino resort in fiscal 2023, or by 2024 at the latest,” Matsui added.

If the bill passes, up to three locations nationwide will have approval for the building of an integrated resort casino. Receiving approval means obtaining national authorization for a bidder’s casino plans as well as approval by the local assemblies for funding, the report adds. Once that has been achieved, construction of the casino can start.

Matsui said that, as soon as it becomes law, a schedule for opening the casino will be drawn up. The construction of a casino in Osaka Bay will be timely, given the fact that the region is hoping to host the 2025 World Expo. If such a feat is achieved, and the casino is built in time, it will help to boost the economy.

Japan’s current casino situation

After 15 years of political argument surrounding casinos in Japan, the government legalized them at the end of 2016. However, new legislation is still required to determine how integrated resort casinos will be chosen, how much space will be allocated to them, and who will operate them, Reuters reports.

At present, the LDP and its coalition partner, Buddhist-backed Komeito, have agreed on floor space being limited to 3% of the total floor space of integrated resort facilities, with a 30% tax collected on revenues generated by the resorts.

Regardless of the limit, though, three casinos could generate nearly $10bn (£7.1bn) in net profit each year, according to the Daiwa Research Institute. With expectations resting on the passage of the casino bill, it’s hoped that it will help to attract more overseas visitors to Osaka, which would help boost regional economies located outside of the capital.

Entrance fee for Japanese gamblers

News of Japan’s first casino comes in the wake of reports earlier this month that Japan’s resident gamblers will be required to pay an entrance fee to gain access to the country’s casinos.

After an agreement between the LDP and Komeito, Japan’s residents will have to pay ¥6,000 ($57, £40.46) whenever they visit one of Japan’s casinos. The new bill, which will be looked at today, doesn’t apply to foreign visitors.

However, with an estimated 3.2 million, or 3.6%, of Japanese adults suspected of suffering from gambling addiction, it remains to be seen whether this new measure will deter them from gambling further. On the other hand, it could make gambling venues more accessible, which, in turn, could create more gambling addicts in the country.

Japan’s entrance fee mimics that of Singapore, which opened two casinos in 2010. Singapore is now the third-biggest casino area after Macau and Las Vegas.

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