Asian casino developer Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd is reportedly cooperating with authorities in Japan as they enquire into a casino bribery scandal in that country. So reported news agency Reuters, citing an unnamed source.
The bribery scandal includes allegations against Tsukasa Akimoto, a former ruling-party member and lawmaker, over claims of casino lobbying by Chinese online gaming firm 500.com Ltd.
GGRAsia contacted Melco Resorts last week about reports that its Tokyo offices had been visited by local prosecutors amid the casino bribery scandal. We did not receive any reply by the time this story went online.
Reuters’ source stated that Japanese authorities had visited Melco Resorts’ Tokyo office on January 17, but no one was there at the time. The news agency did not elaborate on Melco Resorts’ role in the ongoing investigation.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described last week the state of arrest of Mr Akimoto as “very regrettable”. But Mr Abe said the policy for integrated resorts – or “IRs” as casino complexes with tourism facilities are known in Japan – would still be pursued, on the basis it was an economic stimulant aimed at boosting inbound tourism to the country.
Japan’s national government said last week that it would now make public only in February or March its so-called “basic policy” on IRs.
One reason was the wish to insert into the basic policy a new rule concerning communication between gaming-sector operators and government officials in Japan.
Nonetheless according to GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent, despite the latest announcement, Japan’s central authorities plan to stick to a previously-mentioned schedule for the application period during which local governments can seek the right to host such a resort. That has been proposed previously as from early January, 2021, up to July 30 that year.
A maximum of three IRs will be permitted nationally under a first phase of market liberalisation.
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