The government in Japan released a preliminary outline of regulations for the country’s upcoming integrated casino resorts (IR) on Monday. The outline was seen as a draft overview in anticipation of a related bill being presented to the Diet, Japan’s legislature, in extended session this autumn.
According to a report in The Japan News, the outline includes problem gambling mitigation measures aimed at Japanese nationals. It would restrict how often they will be able to visit the IRs, limit chip purchases to cash only, and ban the use of ATM machines at the casinos. Foreign visitors would still be able to gamble using credit cards. The report suggested that citizens should use their “My Number” identification cards to enter the IRs so that the government can track their visits for taxation and “social security” purposes. The report suggests a minimum age of 20 to enter the IRs and proposes that nationals should have to pay an entry fee. Foreign visitors would be able to enter the resorts without paying the statutory fee.
The report comes from the Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion (IR Promotion Secretariat). Media reports suggest that the outline may put forward an upper limit on gaming floor size, with earlier reports indicating a limit of 15,000 square meters (161,459 sq ft). The number of IRs to be allowed must also be limited and the report recommends that no more than one casino should be allowed at each facility. Locations were not suggested.
In order to qualify as an integrated resort, and thus receive a casino license facilities must also include hotel accommodations, recreational amenities such as museums, and host international visitors for conventions and exhibitions. Domestic tour desks were also suggested.
The report recommends that a casino control committee should be set up under the Cabinet Office. The committee would have the binding power to issue business licenses for casinos, conduct inspections, and impose administrative penalties. Additional authority to conduct operator background checks and other due diligence to prevent money laundering and stem the influence of organized crime would be given to the committee under the report’s guidelines. Known gang members would be barred from the casinos and transactions over a certain, as yet undetermined amount, would need to be reported.
The IR promotion law went into effect in December 2016 and gives the government one year to submit a bill facilitating the implementation of the law.
Reuters reports that big casino operators have been cautious about speaking out against what some analysts have said are over zealous rules and regulations on the industry. One of the problems seen is the limit on floor space with 15,000 sqm being too small. One executive reportedly said the limit would cause them to cut their potential investment in half. While no source for the lament was identified, it was previously reported that MGM and Las Vegas Sands were willing to invest as much as $10 billion in their respective projects if chosen.
The chairman of an American Chamber of Commerce Japan task force working on casino resorts, Seth Sulkin, told Reuters, “Gaming companies are very rational. They’ll calculate how much revenue they can generate with a 15,000-square-metre casino floor, and they will only invest as appropriate for that, which certainly won’t be $10 billion,” said Sulkin.
Nearly 45% of Japanese citizens are against the legalization of casinos in Japan. The government is reportedly trying to get out ahead of any anticipated political resistance by scheduling a series of public hearings around the country for later this month. The suggested framework would be presented and local feedback would be solicited according to a report on Casino.org.
A government panel will hold meetings in Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Takamatsu, Tokyo, and Toyama from August 17-29 to lay concerns about gambling addiction, money laundering, and other issues to rest as well as take suggestions and concerns from the public into consideration.