Japan Casino Regulation Taskforce Begins Developing Second Gambling Bill

Posted on: April 5, 2017, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: April 5, 2017, 09:33h.

Drafting the second Japan casino bill that will set out the rules and regulations of the future integrated gambling resorts in the country began yesterday in Tokyo.

Japan casino gambling bill Shinzo Abe
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seen here during his White House visit in March, is beginning to study the gambling business. A second Japan casino bill is expected to reach his desk before 2018. (Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In December, the National Diet passed legislation authorizing at least two integrated casino resorts in the Asian nation. But before Japan will begin accepting and reviewing bids from the numerous companies interested in vying for the coveted licenses, federal lawmakers must first come to specific terms on how the venues will be managed and regulated.

The directives will be part of a second Japan casino bill that will address the numerous concerns residents and some lawmakers have over authorizing commercial gambling. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a staunch supporter of gambling, as the chief leader wants to make Japan more tourist-friendly and bring new tax revenue to Tokyo.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, which controls both chambers of the Diet, led the gambling push. But there’s plenty of opposition, including from citizens. An opinion poll last year found that just 12 percent of Japanese people support the integrated resorts measure.

Rules & Regulations

When the first casino bill was passed in December, it stipulated that the government draft and approve a second, more comprehensive piece of legislation over the next 12 months. Everything from licensing requirements and fees and taxes, to measures to protect gambling addicts and prevent money laundering, is to be covered.

Abe has created a taskforce in his cabinet to review gambling regulations to make sure the casinos adhere to the most stringent safeguards.

“We need to introduce casino regulations of the highest global standards, and take every measure to address various concerns such as addiction, money laundering, and what effects it might have on young people,” Abe said this week during the taskforce’s initial meeting. “I want to create fabulous, Japan-style integrate resorts that have clean casinos.”

The Diet hopes to address the second casino bill during a special extraordinary session this fall.

Impact Significant

Japan is in the driver’s seat when it comes to gambling. Casino companies around the world are licking their chops at the prospects of infiltrating the 10th most populated country, and also one of the wealthiest.

International operators like MGM, Las Vegas Sands, and Galaxy Entertainment are all courting potential partners in Japan to make their bids more appealing to government officials that will possess approval power. The multibillion-dollar gambling conglomerates are also targeting construction companies and other local vendors.

Each of the aforementioned casino brands have pledged investments of up to $10 billion should they receive one of the two initial licenses. Galaxy Entertainment owner and billionaire Lawrence Ho went so far as to say, “There is no predetermined cap. I prefer not to constrain our dreams with price tags.”

The outcome of the second Japan casino bill could of course make the market less attractive should the regulations, licensing fees, and taxes be too significant.