Hokkaido governor Harumi Takahashi toured Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa casino property (pictured) on Monday to have a better knowledge of its operations.
Japan’s Kyodo News press agency reported that during the visit, Ms Takahashi was briefed about casino management and also viewed baccarat tables.
Resorts World Sentosa is operated by Genting Singapore Plc, a subsidiary of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Bhd. The group, which operates casinos in Asia, Europe and the United States, is among the several international gaming operators that have expressed interest in investing in a casino resort in Japan.
Ms Takahashi also met with Jerry See, the head of Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority, the city’s gaming regulator. She and Mr See talked about controls on casino-related crime and measures to promote responsible gambling, Kyodo News reported.
A bill to legalise casinos in Japan is pending in the Diet, the country’s parliament. The Cabinet Committee of Japan’s lower chamber started discussions in June on the enabling bill – known as the Integrated Resorts (IR) Promotion Bill – but parliament is currently in recess until the autumn.
Casino legalisation in Japan will be a two-statute process. After an enabling bill legalising casino resorts at the conceptual level, a second piece of legislation would detail the specifics, including how they are administered and regulated.
Several local governments in Japan have been reported as expressing interest in hosting an integrated resort, including those of Hokkaido, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka, Nagasaki, Miyazaki and Okinawa.
Japanese lawmakers of different parties have frequently referred to the “Singapore model” as the template for casino resort implementation and regulation in Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Singapore’s casinos during an official visit to the Lion City in May.
Discussions at the Cabinet Committee of Japan’s lower chamber on the matter have included the imposition of an entry levy on locals, similar to what Singapore does. The city imposes on Singapore citizens and permanent residents a statutory entry levy of either SGD100 (US$80) for 24-hour access, or SGD2,000 for a year’s entry but is content to give foreigners free access.
Japanese lawmakers are mulling extending the levy also to foreign visitors.
Singapore legalised casino resorts in 2005. The aim of the about-face was to boost employment, tourism spending and the gross domestic product of the city-state.
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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