Japan’s Lower House Passes Gambling Addiction Bill, Paves Way for Integrated-Resort Casinos

Poker chips on table in casino

Japan’s House of Representatives passed a bill on gambling addition countermeasures on Friday that could pave the way for integrated resort casinos in the country.

The passing of the bill precedes that of the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill, which details a basic regulatory framework for the introduction of a casino industry in Japan. According to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review, top executives from the global gaming industry are watching closely to see how events unfold.

After passing the House of Representatives, the bill will now move to the upper house, otherwise known as the House of Councillors, where members will discuss and vote on the bill.

“Companies and municipalities that have been silent up until now would start moving,” said James Murren, chief executive of Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International, a leading casino operator.

In Murren’s opinion, three casino resorts in Japan would “generate billions of dollars, making the market vastly larger than Singapore”.

If the bill passes Japan’s parliament, the Diet, by June 20, MGM has reported that it is committed to bidding for one of the three licenses to operate integrated resorts. According to Daiwa Research Institute, just three casinos could generate nearly $10bn (£7.55bn) in net profit each year.

Casino developments in Japan

At the end of 2016, the Diet passed a law that legalized casinos in Japan. That ended 15 years of political argument over the issue. It also paved the way for the integration of casinos into hotels, conference rooms, and shopping centers throughout the nation.

With Japan becoming more open to the idea of casinos, major players such as MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and Caesars Entertainment appear keen to invest money in an integrated resort casino in Japan.

Notably, though, while discussions are still underway about the possibility of an integrated resort casino in Japan, it’s hoped that the bill’s passing will attract more overseas visitors to the country while boosting regional economies outside of Tokyo.

Last month, it was reported that Japanese resident gamblers would be required to pay an entrance fee of ¥6,000 ($57, £40.46) whenever they visit one of the country’s casinos. The fee, which doesn’t apply to foreign visitors, is part of the bill that lawmakers are moving to the House of Councillors.

It was also reported late last month that the governor of Japan’s Osaka Prefecture had said that the region could have one of the first casinos up and running by 2023. As reported, the proposed casino would be located on the man-made Yumeshima Island in Osaka Bay two years before the 2025 World Expo, which Osaka is hoping to host.

According to Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui, as soon as the bill becomes law, a schedule for opening the casino will be drawn up. Such a construction for a casino in Osaka Bay would be timely, given the fact that it is hoping to host the 2025 World Expo. If the bill becomes law and the casino is built in time, it would help to boost the region’s economy.

Gambling remains a serious concern

Yet, while plans seem to be moving forward for the development of a casino in Japan, gambling addiction remains a concern.

A government survey published last September found that an estimated 3.2 million, 3.6% of Japanese adults, are suspected of suffering from an addiction to gambling. One of the games that Japanese gamblers are addicted to is pachinko pinball, a type of pinball game that originated in Japan.

With the issue of gambling already a concern within Japan, the introduction of integrated resorts may be an ideal way to boost local economies with additional revenue, but it doesn’t do much to help the problem at hand.