Japan May Delay Policy for Selecting Casino Resort Cities

  • Policy for selecting casino resort host cities was due to be published in January
  • Delay hasn't been officially announced yet, suggested by government officials on Monday
  • Guidelines will outline how applications for a casino resort license will be assessed
Yasaka Pagoda and Sannen Zaka Street in Kyoto, Japan
Government officials in Japan have suggested that guidelines for the development of casino resorts may be delayed due to the bribery scandal that has gripped the country. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Yet another delay

The Japanese government is reportedly planning to delay publication of the process for selecting casino resort host cities.

A set of guidelines for selecting host cities had originally been due to be published in January 2020. This would then provide a framework for the actual selection to take place. However, according to government sources, authorities are planning to postpone the release of the final draft.

guidelines for selecting host cities had originally been due to be published in January 2020

When the Japanese government legalized casinos in July 2018, it was hoped that the first of these integrated casino resorts would be opened by mid-2020. However, there have been numerous delays.

Japan is still reeling from the bribery scandal involving lawmakers who allegedly accepted bribes from a gambling company based in China. 

Policy plans

As part of this selection policy, criteria will be developed that will allow the authorities to objectively rate a given area’s development plans for a casino resort. These development plans will be submitted by the respective prefectural or municipal governments in these bidding regions. 

This policy will include evaluating the potential effects such a resort would have on the local economy. It will also look at ways in which the negative impact of developing these casino resorts can be minimized. 

The first draft of this policy was created in September 2019. The Japanese government will be maintaining the schedule for these hosting cities to submit proposals. Once the basic policy has been implemented, applications must be submitted between January 4, 2021, and July 30, 2021.

According to government estimates, it will take three to four years in most cases for each casino resort to be developed. The frontrunners in the race to obtain a casino resort license include Osaka, Yokohama, and Tokyo.

Opposition to legalizing casinos 

With a number of lawmakers getting arrested and questioned over allegedly accepting bribes from a China-based gambling company, there has been some backtracking on the issue of casino legalization. 

Tsukasa Akimoto, the former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker who was in charge of casino policy, was arrested in December. Since then, a number of other arrests have been made in relation to the casino bribery scandal.

almost 71% of people in Japan are now against casino legalization

The idea of legalizing casinos was already unpopular with the general public. A survey taken after the bribery revelations revealed that almost 71% of people in Japan are now against casino legalization. 

Opposition parties have been criticizing the government for continuing to pursue this policy. These opposition parties introduced a new bill on the first day of the 2020 legislative session on Monday. It aims to dissolve the laws allowing these casinos to be built. It is expected that this bill will be quickly defeated due to the government’s majority in the legislature. 

Seeking a revenue boost

With an aging population, shrinking tax revenues, and a weak economy, the Japanese government is looking at ways to drive additional revenue.

It is hoping that these new integrated casino resorts will be a significant boost to its coffers by attracting a large number of tourists from Southeast Asia and beyond. 

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