The first meeting of Japan’s casino management commission is scheduled for Friday (January 10), after the body was formally set up on Tuesday in line with a previously-announced timetable. That is according to information gathered by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.
In a television interview aired on Monday, Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, asserted that the national government was pressing ahead with integrated resort-related tasks as scheduled, notwithstanding the recently-emerging casino bribery scandal, including allegations against lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto in relation to claims of casino lobbying by Chinese online gaming firm 500.com Ltd.
There have also been claims that money was paid by casino lobbyists to five other lawmakers from the House of Representatives. Two of the five have come forward to deny wrongdoing. One admitted on Monday that his office had accepted and not declared to authorities money – for campaigning in the country’s 2017 general election – from a person said to be an advisor to 500.com. Such issues were not directly relevant to integrated resort policy, noted Mr Suga in his televised comments.
It is anticipated that the casino management commission’s first task will be to establish the rules by which the commission will operate. The commission’s functions will include the licensing of gaming at so-called integrated resorts or “IRs”, as large-scale, multi-use tourism complexes with casinos are known in Japan. The body is also due to define details regarding rules for casino operations.
In late December it was reported that Japan’s national government had earmarked an aggregate JPY6.4 billion (US$59 million) budget to set up its casino management commission and start running it in financial year 2020
On November 29, the country’s parliament confirmed the senior personnel for the casino management commission.
The commission – to be an independent agency under Japan’s Cabinet Office – will also deal with security matters, probity and background checks. It will additionally advise on measures to counter gambling addiction.
In other developments, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reiterated on Tuesday that the national government was expected to announce the final version of its “basic policy” on the IR topic before the end of January.
Local governments that pass the basic threshold for hosting a casino resort – namely being either a prefecture or so-called ordinance-level city – need first to find a private-sector partner or consortium of partners, then apply to the national authorities for permission to develop one. A maximum of three resorts will be permitted in a first round of liberalisation.
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