Even though today in Japan you can bet on horse, boat and bicycle races, casinos are still illegal. Liberal Democratic Party lead by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already submitted Integrated Resorts Promotion bill to the parliament last year, but the discussion was postponed due to more pressing national issues. Prime Minister now needs the support of his junior coalition partner, the Buddhist-backed Komeito, who has indicated he doesn’t oppose the debate but is cautious on the subject because of ethical issues. According to a 2013 study sponsored by the Health Ministry, almost 5% of Japanese adults are addicted to gambling, which is 5 times the rate of most other nations.
The current parliament session ends on 14th December and it’s yet to be seen if the bill can be passed in time. Should Shinzo Abe and LDP be successful in getting casino-style gaming decriminalized, a further IR Implementation bill would need to be approved before interested investor start building. And there are quite of few of those who have been lobbying for years and are now eagerly waiting for the results. Hard Rock Café International, MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts Ltd and Genting Singapore are among those who’ve already made their interests clear.
MGM CEO James Murren said they would spend between $5 to $10 billion on an integrated resort which includes casinos, hotels, shopping and conference space in Tokyo, Yokohama or Osaka. Las Vegas Sands indicated a similar potential investment. Earlier this year, their CEO Sheldon Adelson said “this fall the Diet may reintroduce the question of legalizing gaming, and if they do, we will certainly be there as a candidate. And we have incredible iconic buildings to build.” Kazuo Okada, the owner of Universal Entertainment who has built his fortune manufacturing slot machines and Japanese pachinko machines, is one of the two major local contenders for a Japan IR license.
Supporters of the bill claim the launch of integrated casino resorts could stimulate regional economies through tourism. Some experts believe that if the bill is not passed during this session, it could end up shelved for a while. This would make it impossible for casino resorts to be constructed in Japan before the 2020 Summer Olympics. Having already waited for a long time, interested developers might lose patience and take their money elsewhere.
While this article is really unrelated to online casinos, we think it is somewhat amazing that a country like Japan does not have any land based casinos, let alone online casinos. Japan is the video game capital of the world and we would like to see online casinos become some of the culture their as well. It would be a huge market for online casinos and anything that grows the online gaming business is good n our mind. As it becomes accepted around the globe, it will make it easier on everyone who likes to play at real money online casinos. Once this results of this bill are publicized we will share the results here.