Japan Legalizes Gambling, Paving Way for Investment in Resorts

In December 2016, the Japanese parliament legalized casino gambling in integrated resorts. This was the power move that sought to end decades and decades of argument over the matter. It contributed greatly to Japan’s gross domestic product. Gambling on soccer, motorbike, bicycle and horse racing has, however, always been a legal pastime for many Japanese citizens.

Japan has had quiet the season of gambling change over the past few years. Presently, the ruling parties have proposed a bill that will set restrictions on the number of times a person can visit a casino. A sum of 6, 000 yen is to be paid by people living in Japan while foreign visitors get free admission. This measure is meant to attract tourists and consequently boost the economy of Japan. Tourism has started to become one of the most promising sectors of Japan’s economy.

It is proposed that there be only three integrated resorts that charge the set amount. They would only allow 10 times a month and 3 times a week visits for people living in Japan. This law is expected to be enacted by the end of the present parliament session. The move is meant to prevent gambling addiction and keep people who can’t really afford to gamble from doing so.

It is, however, a fact that in spite of this new legislation, it may take a few years before Japan has fully functional legal casinos. If the bill is passed, then casinos will be open by the year 2020. A lot of time and planning goes into the opening of such billion-dollar establishments. After their establishment, the government is still expected to take its time to approve the potential operators.

It is, however, expected that the bill will stir up mixed feelings. The opposition is already against it.There are those that are strongly against gambling. Their concerns range from addiction to vices such as money laundering. Then there is the lot that sees it as an amazing investment opportunity.

Impact of gambling on Japan

  • Legalizing casino gambling has already been bait for international casino investors. MGM, for example, is already looking for places with casino potential in Tokyo, Japan. This is set to give even more revenue to the Japan government. Many more investors are likely to take up the opportunity.
  • Addiction. Unfortunately, Japan is already dealing with addicts of gambling. According to the country’s ministry of health, up to 4.8% of Japanese adults are or have been gambling addicts. It is feared that this number may only go higher as gambling becomes more and more popular. A doctor of gambling patients says that the number of people suffering from this addiction is on the rise especially in areas with casinos. Many say that the government needs to come up with better regulatory measures.
  • Tourism has improved. Creating legal casinos in ‘integrated resorts’ is expected to improve the numbers even more. According to Mito Kakizawa of the opposition Unity party, this move could earn the government really high revenues.

There have been divisions here and there concerning Japan’s new law. There are those that argue that the 6000 yen fee charged on locals is too high. They believe that the majority of the population, especially those in rural areas, may find it too high. Kazuaki Sasaki, an associate professor at a university, argues that the fee is so high that it could discourage people from gambling in the casinos. He also suggests that these casinos be opened in a lot of locations. According to him, the suggested three locations are just not enough. He believes that there is no need to limit this economic opportunity to just a few rural areas.

Surprisingly enough, only approximately 27% of the Japanese population is excited about casino gambling. Many are really skeptical. Others worry that big, unscrupulous companies may take over and introduce money laundering. Some say that the move will only benefit casino owners and even further increase the problem of gambling addiction in the country.

The market for casino gambling in Japan is now full of possibilities. CLSA estimates it to be worth up to $30billion. This means that it is set to attract all sorts of investors. As it is, every US-listed Macau, China casino operator s is set to expand to Japan. It is just a matter of time before Japan finds out whether or not it made the right bet with this one. Especially if the bill finally becomes law.

For a long time, and in many countries, legislators have had trouble determining the right regulations. In most cases, the regulations depend on who is benefiting. As for the case of Japan, we can only wait and see whether or not the country has made the right bet.


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