Japan Lawmakers Agree on Resident Casino Entrance Restrictions

Posted on: March 27, 2018, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: March 27, 2018, 10:31h.

Japan lawmakers deliberating regulations on the country’s forthcoming liberalization of commercial gaming reportedly came to terms this week on the number of entrances residents will be permitted each month.

Japan casino IR entrance fee
Japan residents won’t be able to walk into a casino in their home country as often as they might like. (Image: Yuriko Nakao/Getty)

According to sources talking with The Japan Times, the two ruling parties will limit the number of times a local can enter a casino to three times per week, or 10 times during the course of a month.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its Diet partner Komeito support the resident frequency restrictions in hopes of preventing increases of problem gambling that the integrated resorts (IR) might produce. The two political groups control the National Diet with a combined 150 of the 252 House of Councilors seats, and 312 of the House of Representatives’ 465.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe directed his LDP to grow tourism through the authorization of at least two integrated casino resorts. The legislature passed its shell IR bill in December of 2016, and has been writing its more in-depth regulatory measure since.

Parties at Odds

The Diet’s current session runs through June 20, meaning the clock is ticking for lawmakers to finish the casino bill. There’s still many important details to be decided.

While the LDP and Komeito found common ground on the number of visits a Japanese citizen or resident can make in a given week and month, they remain opposed on numerous other issues.

As for resident entrances, a fee is also going to be imposed, and the two controlling parties differ on what that cost should be. The LDP suggests ¥5,000 ($47) per visit, but the Komeito wants it higher at ¥8,000 ($76).

The entrance fees are seen as an additional safeguard in making sure those who can’t afford to gamble are kept out.

A more pressing decision facing the Diet is the total number of casino resorts. The LDP is calling for at least four, perhaps five. Komeito favors a maximum of two or three.

The Diet will also need to finalize size restrictions for the casino floor, and what tax rate will be imposed on revenue. The legislature will additionally need to lay out the bidding process for the coveted gaming licenses.

Komeito Power

Japan’s IR regulator law was expected last December, but was delayed after Abe decided to hold a snap election. The decision paid off, as his LDP gained power in the National Diet.

But despite Komeito occupying just 25 Councilors and 29 Representatives seats, the coalition party to the LDP has considerable power.

There’s plenty of opposition to legalizing casinos in Japan. A 2017 poll found that just one in three citizens supports allowing commercial gambling venues into the country.

For a bill to be passed in the Land of the Rising Sun, the measure must receive majority approval in both legislative chambers. A party-line vote would give the LDP enough sway to move the statute out of the House of Representatives, but in the House of Councilors, the upper chamber, the LDP will need Komeito members to come aboard.