No casino legislation for Japan until at least 2018

  • Japan’s casino legislation may not be debated by the country’s government until next year
  • Special taskforce created to deal with consequences of introducing gambling

According to latest reports of government spokespeople, it is possible that the release of Japan’s casino legislation could be pushed back to August 2018. Officials predict that the legislature won’t even be debated in parliament until 2018, either.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister had originally wanted casino regulation to pass by the end of 2017

In December of 2016, Japan’s National Diet agreed to eradicate the constitutional ban that restricts casino gambling.

The country must now approve a secondary bill, which spells out the finer details including specifics such as the number of casinos to be permitted, and their locations.

However, it is unlikely that the outline of the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill – which will prepare Japan for the introduction of legalized gambling by setting out a detailed and precise regulatory framework – will be released to the public before August of next year, says the Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion.

What’s the hold up?

Japan’s economy is the second largest developed economy in the world, the third largest worldwide by GDP, and the fourth largest based on purchasing power parity.

For this reason, the Japanese market is positively thriving, giving rise to the belief that the country could create a rich casino industry. However, it has been noted that introducing new legislation too quickly could have a detrimental effect on this growth.

So, after the contents of the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill are made public, Japanese citizens will be given the opportunity to have their say on the points laid out by it.

Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, originally wanted the legislation to be approved by 2017’s third quarter.

However, the period of time given to the Japanese public to put forward their comments, coupled with the amount of effort the government is putting in to roll this out smoothly, is set to push the parliamentary debate on the bill well into 2018.

If approved, how will the bill work?

Earlier this week, Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun reported on recent discussions taking place in the government around the casino licence vetting system.

Purportedly, it is being based on methods already used in gaming authorities such as Singapore and Nevada – which are two of the world’s most popular locations for gamblers.

A Casino Management Committee, with the support of the National Police Agency, will carry out the screening and analysis of applicants for casino licences. Specific emphasis will be placed on identifying those connected to antisocial groups and those with yakuza links.

Meanwhile, a special group has been created and ordered to deal with the Promotion of Countermeasures on Addictions of Gambling. This taskforce will develop ways of reducing any harm that Japan’s introduction of gambling may impose on the country and its people.

However, the Japanese government’s gambling U-turn could introduce all kinds of problems into the county, so giving the secondary bill the time it needs to be fully drawn out and implemented is certainly a valid – but also cautious – approach. With industry leaders predicting a potentially strong market, it remains to be seen how this develops.

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