Set to close at the month’s end, Japan’s Ordinary Diet Session has made no significant legislative progress on preparing for integrated resorts (IRs) after both the opposition and the ruling party failed to come to an agreement on the terms of the planned Gambling Addiction Bill.
Japan’s largest political party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party (DP), had largely agreed on the need to address problem gambling and pass legislation to that effect during the current Diet session, however, discussions have reportedly broken down, which likely means there won’t be enough time for the National Diet to pass the bill.
In the coming week, draft legislation may still be submitted independently by the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito, however, the actual passage will have to wait.
President of The Society Concerned About Gambling Addiction, Noriko Tanaka, reportedly explained to Asia Gaming Brief that there are many points of contention, but at its core, the ruling party draft is “inadequate.”
Tanaka reportedly said the opposition parties are demanding that more serious measure be taken regarding problem gambling, such as establishing stakeholder meetings, establishing a unified authority at the ministry level, and requiring that the gaming industry be responsible for financially backing the widespread problem. None of those measures, apparently, are addressed in the LDP draft, according to the report.
If the legislation fails to pass before the current parliamentary session ends on June 18, it will be pushed back until the Extraordinary Diet Session is expected to be held, either in the fall or winter. The agenda will be crowded with gaming-related issues, however, with that session reportedly set to address the Bill for the Promotion of Integrated Resort Facilities, also known as the IR Implementation Bill.
December saw the House of Councilors approve the IR Implementation Bill. The enabling legislation obliges the government to establish rules and guidelines within one year that will legalize integrated casino resorts while establishing regulations to deal with specific issues, one being problem gambling.
The current draft bill, however, does not specify rules that must be followed by businesses or penalties for non-compliance, according to Bloomberg.
University of Memphis Professor James Whelan, who earlier this year briefed the LDP on gambling addiction reportedly said that in general, compulsive gamblers comprise between one percent and two percent of any given population, Bloomberg reports. In terms of Japan, that could be the equivalent of one or two million Japanese. Whelan said that the likelihood of the addition of casinos in Japan, possibly as soon as 2023, making the issue worse, is slim considering that widespread gaming already exists in the country in East Asia.