Press Release

Gambling in Japan – A look at integrated resorts

iCrowdNewswire   Jan 1, 2021  12:02 PM ET

Gambling has always been a part of society and dates back to around 3,000 BC, and since then, the gambling industry has come a long way. It is now estimated to be worth around $443.2 billion globally, and is expected to be worth well over $500 billion in the next few years. The global casino industry, physical and online, makes up a large portion of that amount, and is worth about $227 billion.

Many countries have started making attempts to capitalize on this profitable market, as a result of its success. One of these countries is Japan, which legalized the operation of casinos in lieu of the planned construction of integrated resorts. This might be surprising for many, since casino gambling has been illegal in Japan for many years, and needless to say, has been met with controversy.

The country seems to be split for those in favor, and those against. As with most things, there are many factors surrounding the construction of these integrated resorts.

Current laws

Gambling for the most part has been historically prohibited in Japan, at least officially since 1907, and the gambling laws in the past and present only allow for a select few forms of gambling. These laws allow for betting on a few different sports, specifically racing, namely powerboat, bicycle, motorcycle and horse racing. These races and the prizes are heavily regulated by the government.

In addition to this, participating in lotteries are legal and are sponsored by the governments of each cities or prefecture. That being said the legality of Japanese casinos hasn’t stopped a lot of its citizens from gambling thanks to a loophole which makes it legal for Japanese citizens to gamble if the website is hosted offshore. This has led to a myriad of casinos operating and targeting the Japanese market. Here is an piece looking at some of the most popular online casinos in Japan.

The operation of casinos was legalized in 2018, but so far only for the 3 integrated resorts, which have yet to be constructed. There will be regulations for the citizens to prevent a gambling addiction from forming, such as a set number of visits per month and an entrance fee that must be paid upon entry.

Economic benefits

In countries where casino gambling has been legalized, both physical and online, there has been a massive boost to the economy. Interest has been expressed by many of the cities and prefectures to be the location where the integrated resorts are built such as Tokyo, Nagoya, Hokkaido, Yokohama, Chiba, the prefecture and the city of Osaka, Wakayama Prefecture and Nagasaki Prefecture. Of the eight, Nagasaki Prefecture has estimated that about 36,000 jobs will be created and $4 billion will be generated if an integrated resort is built there. Yokohama has estimated the creation of 119,000 jobs and $9.5 billion in profits, as well as Osaka stating about 88,000 jobs and $7.2 billion.

Japan is already a tourist hotspot, and it is predicted that the construction of the integrated resorts will lead to a massive influx in tourism. This would probably lead to the creation of further jobs from businesses and hotels opening up in the surrounding area.

Controversy

One of the biggest concerns the opposition has for the construction of these integrated resorts is the existing gambling addiction that the country faces. It’s estimated that about 3.2 million citizens are addicted to gambling, and when looking at the total figure which is 3.6%, it is clearly higher than that of most countries where casino gambling is currently legal, such as France, which is at 1.2%.

A survey conducted following the legalization of casinos shows that only 26.7% of citizens were in favor of the resorts. However, the government points to an existing model in Asia, Singapore, as evidence that gambling addiction may decrease, as this is what happened in Singapore, with addiction rates dropping from 4.1% to 0.9% over the span of 12 years.

Expected construction

The construction of the integrated resorts has faced a few challenges since the legalization of casinos in 2018. Investors, such as Las Vegas Sands pulled out from the plans of being part of the construction of these resorts, which has cast doubt on other investors.

Aside from this, the submission period has been postponed a few times too; it was initially going to run from January 4th, 2021 to July 30th, 2021, but has now been postponed to April 28th, 2022 without a start date being mentioned. Initial reasons were due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but government is saying that everything will go ahead despite of this. There is some relief at least, since everything should start returning to normal in mid to late 2021, according to the World Health Organization.


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