Japan makes move on problem gambling before casino influx

  • Japanese government to draft new bill aimed at combatting problem gambling
  • Follows on from landmark decision to legalize casinos

Japan’s gambling industry saw a huge change on December 15 last year, when the government voted to legalize land-based casinos. Even though the Japanese public weren’t exactly supportive of this bill – only 12% were in favor, according to a poll, the government still passed it.

Problem Gambling rules in Japan could encompass the existing $200 billion pachinko industry, as well as the incoming casino boom.
Problem Gambling rules in Japan could encompass the existing $200 billion pachinko industry, as well as the incoming casino boom.

With the bill having gone through, the government is now keen to tackle problem gambling, which has long been a cause for concern in Japan.

Legalizing land-based casinos is a key part of the government’s plan to develop ‘integrated resorts’ that will feature casinos, hotels and other amenities designed to attract tourists; these ‘integrated resorts’ could be constructed in economically stagnant areas of the country to boost the local economy.

The scale of the problem in Japan

It is said that some 2.8 million people, or 2.7% of the population, have admitted to suffering from gambling addiction at some point in their lives. Most of them find pachinko particularly addictive; a mix between a pinball machine and slot machine, pachinko is a hugely popular Japanese pastime known, with thousands of pachinko parlors up and down the country.

In fact the industry is worth a staggering $200 billion.

Any new measures are expected to cover pachinko, as well as the forthcoming influx of casinos.

Reporting when seriously concerned

This fall, it’s expected that the government will unveil a new bill designed to combat gambling addiction. The bill is expected to work as follows: those who have a serious problem will be able to contact a gambling facility (such as a casino or a pachinko parlor) and request that they be banned. The gambling operator would then comply with this request if the person’s gambling problem is deemed serious enough. The operator themselves would make this judgement, or they would look at the person’s medical certifications as an alternative. People will also be able to request a ban for a close family member.

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