In Japan and a prominent political figure has reportedly poured cold water on suggestions that the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may be considering whether to legalize online casino gaming.

According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, Hachiro Okonogi (pictured) serves as the Chairman for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s National Public Safety Commission and he used a recent press conference to vociferously deny rumors that iGaming legislation was being contemplated. The source detailed that the 55-year-old subsequently went even further by pledging that Suga’s administration would continue to crack down on illegal online gambling despite the activity having grown more popular as a direct result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Contentious claims:

Okonogi’s assertion reportedly came after he had been asked by Hiroyuki Moriyama from the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party about whether the conservative government had changed its mind on iGaming. This purportedly followed widespread gossip that Suga and his cabinet were possibly considering whether to legalize the activity as part of the plan that is to soon see Japan license a trio of land-based integrated casino resorts.

Resolute reply:

In response and Okonogi reportedly declared that the Integrated Resort Development Act authorizing the three coming Las Vegas-style developments ‘does not include online casinos’ and that such activities ‘are not subject to this regulation’. He purportedly went on to state that ‘online casinos are illegal in the first place’ and as a result are to remain subject to ‘strict action’ from the police and his own National Public Safety Commission.

Okonogi reportedly proclaimed…

Continuing to come down on online casinos is the role of the police and the Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission. The fact is that this does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Integrated Resort Development Act or the minister in charge of the Casino Management Board.”

Venerable view:

Okonogi reportedly finished by pronouncing that the Liberal Democratic Party, which has been almost continually in charge of Japan since 1955, has a long-standing reputation for quickly shutting down any illegal iGaming operations and seeing their proprietors ‘tried in court.

Looming links:

Progress towards bringing the three land-based integrated casino resorts to Japan is reportedly continuing at pace following the definitive publication of the government’s ‘Basic Policy’ selection criteria in December. A multitude of prospective candidate communities including the likes of Osaka and Yokohama are now purportedly attempting to select their preferred foreign operating partners before submitting their finalized plans to a panel of federal selectors in advance of a July of 2022 deadline.