Japan agrees on casino construction limit

By Harrison Sayers

The Japanese Government has cleared another hurdle in its push to open up casinos in the country, by agreeing on the limit of how many can be initially constructed nationwide to three.

This latest development follows the signing of an  agreement by the ruling Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) and their junior partners in the coalition, the Komeito party, at the end of March which limited the number of visits which residents could make to casinos to 3 a week and 10 a month.

The LDP had tried to make the agreed number higher, but were forced to compromise on three . This agreement means the next discussion on the topic will be raised in Japanese parliament (DIET) in seven years as opposed to Komeito’s proposed 10 years, with the three casinos which will be built will also have their locations agreed upon before any bill is finalised.

In many ways, this agreement reflects the current appetites for casino development in Japan; which is one of caution. Many believe that the country which is said to have 3.2million problem gamblers, according to a recent government survey, will see that number increase and put more strain on the government as well as families who have to bear the brunt of the problems.

Therefore all political parties in Japan are treating the establishment of the country’s first casinos extremely carefully with many suggesting a replication of Singapore’s casino model. Singapore saw its first integrated resorts open in 2010 with a strict age limit of 21, no bank machines on casino floors and a blacklist for problem gamblers. To help further curb any problems with the new casinos fees were also introduced for residents entering a casino with local residents paying $100 for 24 hour access or $2,000 for annual access.

The last major obstacle now is a dispute between the LDP and Komeito, over the agreed entry fees for residents wishing to patronise the casinos. Komeito wants the fee set at ¥8,000 per person ($75), whereas the LDP are pushing for a more modest  ¥5,000 ($47).  However, at the rate at which the government are currently finding compromises it shouldn’t be long now until Japan has a casino bill ready to be finalised.

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