The existing casino industry expects it will have a constructive dialogue with the authorities in Japan prior to the second bill that would regulate casino resorts in that country.
The first, enabling bill, could pass during an extraordinary session of the Japanese Diet this autumn, according to some media reports from Japan this week. The parliament’s autumn session runs from September 29 to November 30.
Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice president, communications and government relations for Caesars Entertainment Corp, told a panel during Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2014 in Las Vegas on Tuesday: “I think most definitely there will be an opportunity to have a conversation. Over the time I’ve dealt with the Japanese government, they’re hungry for information. They’re very thoughtful and they will follow a process. It doesn’t mean your input will determine the outcome, but I believe they will be open to a conversation.”
Caesars Entertainment is one of the foreign operators interested in bidding for a licence – probably with a local partner – if casino gambling is legalised in Japan.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that legalising casino gambling is an important pillar of his plan to revive economic growth. Casino operators including Las Vegas Sands Corp, Genting Singapore Plc, Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd have all shown interest in tapping the Japanese market.
Alan Feldman, executive vice president, global government and industry affairs for MGM Resorts International, another would-be licence bidder for Japan, said at the same panel: “In all of the meetings we’ve had, we have had a very direct discussion about certain policy elements. We’ve provided information that’s been well received. That doesn’t automatically mean that’s what’s going to happen, but I think we’ve found an environment in which a discussion on policy matters is very welcome.”
He added that the ‘Singapore model’ of casino regulation has been referred to frequently in Japan. Singapore’s framework includes an entry levy on Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
“The ‘Singapore model’ means different things to different people,” said Mr Feldman.
“But one thing it doesn’t necessarily mean is that there will be [only] two casinos or integrated resorts,” he added, also pointing out that Singapore had a “very open process of dialogue with the industry prior to final decisions being made” about its casino industry.
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"We like Japan. We like all areas…but it is a matter of what the local government and the local people really want"
Ted Chan Ying Tat
Chief operating officer of Galaxy Entertainment Japan