In 2016, the Japanese legislative assembly passed the IR Implementation bill, easing the prohibition against land-based Casinos. While this law was a preliminary step, more government approval will be needed before casinos can be licensed. The IR Implementation bill is one of the key initiatives of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government. In this article, we discuss the IR Implementation Law, the Yakuza’s opposition, the Economic downturn and Licensing requirements.
Integrated Resort Implementation Law
The Integrated Resort Implementation Law in Japan limits IRs in Japan to three municipalities, including Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki. Though Japan is an attractive market for IRs, recent events have cast doubt over the feasibility of the project. However, the new law sets a sound foundation for future development. This article will explore some of the challenges faced by the Integrated Resorts in Japan.
Japan has a long history of conservative attitudes toward gambling. The country banned gambling entirely in 1880, and it has only recently become interested in developing integrated resorts and casinos to boost economic growth. The government passed the Integrated Resort Implementation Law in 2018 and the law is expected to go into effect in July 2021. However, the bill had to be delayed because of mixed emotions. In the end, the new legislation will decriminalize commercial gambling.
Yakuza’s opposition to IRs
A land-based 日本 カジノ is an increasingly popular proposition in Japan. This new type of gambling has drawn criticism for the way it treats criminals and the role that the yakuza plays in local economies. The Japanese government has also taken steps to curb the role of yakuza groups, which were previously used as overt displays of power. Since the 1990s, the Japanese government has increasingly regulated the spaces occupied by yakuza in the urban landscape. This regulation of yakuza activities accompanied plans to hygienise central neighbourhoods, spurred by the organisation of the Olympics.
The yakuza’s opposition to the casino initiative is understandable. Those who are connected to the yakuza’s networks could use that leverage against the casino. For example, a casino employee could “blow the whistle” on anti-money laundering practices at another casino, and an insider at a rival casino could play there and leak stories about the yakuza member’s exploits.
While gambling in Japan is not illegal, the government is considering introducing a legal casino as a means to boost tourism and the economy. The government is urging residents to gamble at its new land-based casinos, which would be integrated with luxury shopping, hotels, and entertainment complexes. Analysts say that if the new casino industry is successful in Singapore, it will likely work in Japan, too.
Licensing requirements for IRs
The IR tender has been postponed several times and has a large elephant in the room. Tokyo cannot move forward with its pursuit until the Summer Olympics are over. If the prefecture doesn’t move forward quickly, it will miss the national deadline and face yet another delay. It is already nine months behind schedule after the snafu with Covid. Ultimately, this means a delay for the entire industry.
To counter the shaky outlook, Osaka prefecture revised its IR development requirements, allowing three applicants to submit proposals. While the deadline to submit new bids was only one and a half months away, the prefecture’s IR team is optimistic that the revised rules will encourage gaming operators to the region. Nagasaki’s close proximity to eastern Asia and abundance of tourism resources could make the region a desirable location.
Chinese VIPs’ spending at IRs
The current situation has a clear negative impact on the 日本 カジノ industry, and the Abe government has long sought to minimize the problem by portraying IRs as engines of foreign tourist spending and inbound tourism. Yet, this isn’t the whole picture. Japanese tourists would be the minority of patrons at the casinos, and the vast majority of these visitors would come from mainland China or Hong Kong.
Although the government recently issued three new Integrated Resort (IR) licenses, the current environment is not conducive to junket operations. While Japan is likely to emulate Singapore and open more IRs, it cannot rely solely on Chinese VIPs, as Macau has done. Instead, Japan will have to focus on mass market tourism to keep its economy afloat. If that’s the case, the government will be forced to make significant changes, starting with the government’s strict regulations against junket operations.