Japanese authorities are considering modeling the new casino regulations after the legislation applicable in Singapore.
With the 2020 Summer Olympics coming to Japan, local authorities are preparing to take advantage of the big event and draw as many investors and tourists as possible. But for this, Japan needs something new and exciting, like casinos.
Japanese gambling news have reported that authorities are trying to figure out how to shape the country’s new gambling-related legislation, as the new casino bill is about to receive Diet approval later this autumn.
Industry experts are already betting on Japan to become the world’s second largest gambling hub, after Macau. Now it’s up to lawmakers to create the necessary conditions for the industry to thrive.
Gambling, mostly for tourists
Companies interested in building casino resorts in Japan:
• Las Vegas Sands
• MGM Resorts
• Wynn Resorts
Apart from the lottery and betting on horse, bike, motorboat and motorcycle races, playing for money is out of the question. The current Japanese gambling laws simply won’t allow it. But as the country prepares for the 2020 Olympics, officials can’t afford to miss out on the opportunity to attract thousands of tourists and a some of the world’s biggest investors.
According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, before creating a new law it is important to identify certain casino-related issues and offer solutions for them. For this part of the process, Japan is looking at other countries that have land-based gambling venues, such as Singapore.
The country requires residents to pay SGD 100 (about $80) just to enter casinos and now Japan is considering applying the same rule. This is because officials believe the whole point of opening the casino market is to attract tourists and get them to spend money, but to discourage locals from gambling.
As for investors, it is highly unlikely that they will be discouraged by this policy. Casino developers are expanding wherever laws allow their business to grow, and Japan certainly offers a great opportunity for growth.
The main topics discussed by officials during their the latest meeting included a stated preference for Singapore-style casino entry fees. But the Asian press said Japan is considering introducing a fee for all casino visitors, not just for local players. While investors don’t care much about levies imposed on locals, asking all gamblers to pay to enter the casino would surely chase some of them away.
It is possible that politicians will be asked to take a vote on the bill later this autumn and Masakazu Hamachi, a member of the Komeito party who represents the committee overseeing the study bill debate, said he was confident that “those in favor will be in the majority.”
Once the bill passes, officials can spell out the details of the resort casino development. The only problem is some industry analysts fear that authorities have taken too long to debate the issue, making it very difficult for potential investors to manage to obtain licenses and complete their projects in time for the Olympics.
Integrated resorts coming to Japan
Newspapers also wrote that Japan will probably offer three casino licenses, and is planning to use the same integrated resort model used in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa. The resorts would include casinos, but also offer various other entertainment options such as hotels, cinemas, malls and so on.
While the exact locations for these three resorts have not been identified yet, rumor has it Osaka will be one of them. Considering its size and geography, it could be a great choice. Okinawa and Yokohama are two other potential locations, as they’re already very popular among tourists.
Meanwhile, investors are hoping that officials will consider Tokyo as a location. But Governor Yoichi Mesuzoe said that his city isn’t interested in an integrated resort.
Special casino task force
Now the Japanese government has announced its most recent plans to create a new agency responsible for speeding up the introduction of the casino bill. The task force’s sole objective would be to expedite the process of passing the draft law.
According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the group includes representatives of several government agencies, who have come together to concentrate on solving the issue. Officials will identify all the problems encountered so far during the process, and will focus all their energy on solving these issues by following the examples offered by other countries.
Officials from the lower house of the Japanese Parliament have briefly discussed the Integrated Resorts Bill before, but they did not arrive to a positive conclusion. However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is confident that the bill will pass in the next session of parliament.