Measures to tackle gambling addiction and deal with other possible social problems arising from the introduction of casino gaming in Japan were top of the agenda at the second in a series of nine scheduled public hearings in the country. The second took place in the city of Osaka (pictured) on Friday.
The Japanese government is holding the events to discuss the framework for the country’s nascent casino industry. The goal is to address public concerns about potential risks related to problem gambling and money laundering, according to media reports.
The Osaka session focused on control of problem gambling, the likely design of casino floors and the best location in that city to ensure a casino’s profitability, the Japan Times reported on Saturday.
After December’s enactment of an enabling bill legalising casino resorts at the conceptual level, a second piece of legislation – known as the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill – now needs to be approved detailing the specifics: how casinos are administered and regulated; the taxation regime to be applied to them; their location; and the number of licences to be issued.
Earlier this month, Japan’s Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion – a body made up of professional civil servants advising the government on the IR Implementation Bill – delivered to the Japanese government a report featuring a set of suggestions on how to regulate the country’s casino industry.
According to the Japan Times, one participant at Friday’s session said the proposals made by the expert panel were insufficient to address a number of social concerns.
“The panel has proposed limiting the number of times Japanese people can enter the casinos on a given day or during any given week. But that could simply encourage people to spend longer periods of time in the casino. A limit should also be placed on how long people are allowed to stay in the casino on any given visit,” the person was quoted as saying.
Another participant noted that by putting limits on the number of times Japanese nationals can enter casinos, could eventually lead people with gambling addiction problems to participate in illegal gambling. “An organisation needs to be established by specialists that can decide on a system for limiting… [entry and] work must be done to create a policy that helps people overcome their gambling problems,” the person reportedly said.
Casinos by 2024
An issue also raised at Friday’s session was the panel’s recommendation to limit the total floor space of a casino. A business group suggested that other options should be considered, instead of a stricter limitation to casino floor, reported the Japan Times.
The government of Osaka has been a strong advocate for casinos, leading the effort to ensure the region gets one of the first licences.
Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service said in a recent report that it expects casino resorts to open by 2024 in two urban locations in Japan – Osaka and Yokohama – and two regional areas, Nagasaki and Hokkaido. The ratings agency also said Japan could eventually generate gaming revenue of US$21 billion in 2024.
“We think now is the time that investors need to understand the handful of key legislative events set to occur during the next few years, as these actions will shape Japan’s attractive integrated resort opportunity,” said Moody’s in the report, quoted by Investor’s Business Daily.
Japan’s government is expected to complete its drafting of the IR Implementation Bill after analysing points brought up in the nine public hearings. Several investment analysts covering the gaming sector have said they expect the bill to be submitted to the country’s parliament in the 2017 extraordinary session starting in the autumn.
The public hearings will take place until August 29. After Tokyo and Osaka, such sessions will be held in: Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Sendai, Sapporo, Nagoya, Toyama and Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China