Japan Begins Next Step Towards Legalizing Casino Resorts

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It has been reported that Wednesday the Japanese cabinet may be presenting the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill as early as August. The bill is the next step forward in the process of legalizing casino resorts in Japan after years of debate.

Also known as the “Casino Bill,” the IR Bill was presented and passed by the Japanese Diet in December 2016, legalizing gambling in Japan for the first time. That piece of legislation, however, only called for the authorization of integrated casino resorts. A second bill was still required, setting out the exact legal framework of gambling in Japan, including regulatory frameworks, protections against gambling addictions, and whether gambling could take place on land or water.

That second bill is the one that the Japanese cabinet could be unveiling to the public by August, and it represents a major step forward for worldwide gambling, as Japan remains one of the great untapped markets in Asia.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will head the Integrated Resort Regime Promotion Headquarter, and along with certain cabinet members, he will be authorized to share information on it with the public. After the information is released, then the IR Promotion Secretariat can launch the next phase, which calls for public commentary on the changes. Right now, there is no word on how long the public comment phase will last.

The new bill will need to pass before the government reviewing process can begin. That phase will start directly involving the casino resort companies, which will then be allowed to submit bids and proposals to the government for casino licenses within Japan. That second bill, starting the review and public commentary, may be debated and up for a vote at the Diet’s special session this August, according to Akiyoshi Tsuruoka, who is the General Manager of Gaming Capital Management.

The Japanese government is moving quickly on the legalization and expansion of casinos into Japan prior to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Part of the funding for the Olympics will be through consumption tax increases, and there is some concern that the increased taxes may slow economic growth. The belief among many Japanese government officials is that the casinos can fuel economic growth to counter that slowdown and also raise tourism revenues before the Olympics. The consumption tax increases will go into effect late 2019, just before the games begin.

Fear of worsening Japan’s gambling addiction crisis is one of the main concerns and objections to the expansion and legalization of gambling in the country. To combat that concern, one part of the regulatory framework is to create “self-exclusion” measures, where an individual or their family could voluntarily impose a ban on letting them into the casinos. It has been used successfully around the world to stop gambling addiction.

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