Japan Casinos Look at ID Card Monitoring to Limit Locals’ Gambling Forays

Posted on: June 21, 2017, 03:58h. 

Last updated on: June 21, 2017, 04:00h.

Japan may not opt for an outright ban on its citizens visiting casinos, instead choosing a policy of monitoring and limiting the frequency of their visits.

Japanese gamblers casino number monitoring
The Japanese, like many Asian cultures, are known to enjoy a bet or two, but can a new My Number ID card really control who bets and how often when casinos open there? (Image: Getty/CNN)

Having passed the Integrated Resorts Bill in December last year, which paves the way for casinos in the country, Japanese politicians are now engaged in discussions about how to regulate their future gaming market. There’s been speculation that concerns about problem gambling would lead them to adopt a casino ban for locals, mirroring the system that exists in countries like Thailand and Malaysia.

At a meeting this week of Integrated Resorts Promotion Secretariat, a panel of experts advising the government on how best to roll out casino gaming, it was suggested that Japan’s recently introduced identity card system could allow casino operators to know exactly who was in the casino and what they were up to.

It would also allow Japan’s soon-to-be-established casino regulator to keep player-tracking records to monitor player behavior.

 What’s Your Number?

The government introduced the “My Number” identity card system last year, which allocates a twelve-digit number to all Japanese citizens and foreign residents who have lived in the country for more than three months.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, the government is considering imposing a framework that would cap the quota of local casino visitors on a weekly and monthly basis, with the acceptable number of visits due to be decided at a later date.

Meanwhile, casino operators would be required to bar entry to card-holders who have been identified by their families, or by themselves, as problem gamblers. Underage citizens and recognized members of organized crime groups would also be prohibited from entering.

The challenge is that the “My Number” system is so new that, while all locals and resident foreign nationals have been assigned numbers, only around ten percent of the population actually posses the plastic cards that will be crucial to the casino scheme’s viability.

 Abe’s Grand Plan

The Japanese casino market has the potential to be the one of the biggest in the world and has long been part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s grand economic plan. But the government is very sensitive to criticism that it might increase gambling addiction in a country where Pachinkko parlors line the streets of major cities and the gambling rates are already alarmingly high.

A 2014 study found that 5.36 million Japanese, or 4.8 percent of the adult population, may be problem or pathological gamblers. That’s compared to only one percent in the United States, according to a recognized Harvard study.