Japan Implementing Strict Casino Advertising Regulations

Japan on map

30-second summary

  • Japan made casino resorts legal in 2018
  • The application process has yet to begin
  • Concerns over problem gambling persist in Japan
  • Casino advertising will be allowed only at international terminals at airports and seaports

Casino resorts in Japan

When Japan legalized resort casinos toward the end of the 2018 legislative session, it signaled a major change in the country’s gambling sector. Commercial casinos had become legal only a couple of years earlier years of debate on the issue.

The licenses for the resort casinos are still up for grabs, and most global casino groups want to get one of these lucrative licenses. The development of these casino resorts will cost in the region of $10bn (£7.6bn). However, the annual revenues for each license could also hit the $10bn mark.

Despite the positive moves on the legalization front, there are concerns about rising figures of problem gamblers in Japan. Many people were against legalization as a result, and now they are calling for protective measures to be implemented.

The official bidding process has not even begun to determine which cities will get these licenses and which operators will have the privilege of developing the casinos. Authorities are still in the process of putting in place the necessary rules and regulatory framework for the matter.

Their latest move on this front has been to discuss limitations on advertising these casinos in Japan. This looks to be a strict implementation of new advertising restrictions.

Details of these restrictions

All ads relating to casino activities will be allowable only at the international terminals at Japanese airports and seaports. This will be part of their wide-ranging framework that will be in draft mode by March.

This means that the general public will not be exposed to any casino advertising unless they are at one of these transportation hubs. This is done in an attempt to curb problem gambling. Specifically, the ads will be allowable at areas such as customs and immigration at the airports. However, other traditional areas for advertising will not have any sign of casino advertising.

There are still ongoing debates about the potential of the Japan casino resorts. Some studies show that curtailing the gambling sector actually ends up working out poorly in reality because people turn to the black market.

The country will benefit from a big boost in tourism and gambling tax revenues. With a nation that has been in a tough economic position for the last few decades, this will be a welcome boost to the economy.

Other nations restricting gambling advertising

There is an ongoing trend around the world to curtail gambling advertising. Many countries are waking up to the fact that gambling addiction is a serious matter and it is on the rise like never before. With people able to place bets and gamble through their phones, no matter where they are, it has never been easier to get hooked.

Italy has imposed a blanket ban on gambling advertising. Its coalition government is very anti-gambling and one of its first moves after coming to power in 2018 was to impose this ban.

The ban, which became effective on January 1, 2019, also prohibits gambling companies from sponsoring events and teams. This was a large source of revenue for many groups in Italy, so this ban is going to make a lot of them struggle financially.

In the United Kingdom, there are similar calls for advertising curtailment. More than half of the football teams in the Premier League and the second tier Championships have gambling sponsors. Most of these teams have these sponsors on their kits.

Fans are also inundated with billboard advertising and television advertising, which often feature famous players and celebrities. This is a problem, particularly for younger people who are more easily impressionable. It normalizes gambling in their mind when they see their idols promoting these companies. It makes it appear that gambling is a normal everyday activity.

There is now a ban on gambling advertising taking place on live televised matches during regular viewing hours. This is a small move, but it could expand in the future to be more wide-ranging. Australia has imposed a similar ban.