Japan Moves Forward in Process to Set Up Gaming Regulatory Committee

Posted on: July 10, 2019, 08:23h. 

Last updated on: July 11, 2019, 12:23h.

A committee that will eventually oversee casino regulation in Japan is now taking shape as gaming operators interested in capturing one of three likely licenses continue to wait for more details.

US President Donald Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are seen in 2017 in Tokyo. Abe’s government is moving forward with plans to open three casino resorts. (Image: Nikkei Asian Review)

Two officials were appointed this month to develop the new committee, according to GGRAsia. The officials — whose names were not immediately available — will report directly to the national government’s cabinet.

Once five members of the casino committee are nominated, they will be confirmed by Japan’s parliament. Other government employees from various departments are expected to work with committee members on regulations.

The committee will be assisted by about 100 government staff members. Employees from the Japan Tourism Agency are also likely to assist the committee.

Earlier this month, the tourism agency set up a new international department. The department has 73 staff members and Jun Takashina is its director-general, GGRAsia said.

Government to Release Venue Selection Details

Once established, the committee will have a busy schedule. There are many global casino operators interested in vying for the three licenses.

One of the biggest challenges ahead for government officials is to identify which sites will be selected as locales for integrated resorts (IRs). The government is also expected to release details on venue requirements.

In May, seven operators submitted preliminary information needed to gain a gaming license in Osaka, Japan. Five are well-known global companies. The decision on which casino operator to partner with is likely to be made in early 2020.

Osaka is seen as a preferred spot for one of the venues. In March, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren predicted that Osaka will be the first region approved for an integrated casino resort in Japan.

Melco Resorts’ Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho Yau Lung expects to spend over US$10 billion on the venue if his company receives the Osaka license. Yumeshima Island, an artificial island, is being mentioned as a possible site in the region.

Nagasaki Also Under Consideration

Other potential locations include cities in the prefectures of Wakayama, Nagasaki, Hokkaido, and Kanagawa. NagaCorp has interest in placing a gaming venue in Nagasaki, perhaps at the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park, among other locations in Japan, according to media reports.

In April, officials from Huis Ten Bosch and government leaders of Nagasaki Prefecture and Sasebo City said they want part of the amusement park to be considered for an IR. A 74.1-acre parcel is available for development.

Japan legalized casino resorts last year. Analysts predicted in December that Japan’s casino market will quickly become the second biggest in the world, after the Chinese gaming enclave of Macau.

Japan’s government is expected to provide more details perhaps as early as August on its plans. Despite the keen interest, the first Japanese casino resorts may not open until 2026,  according to an analysis of Global Market Advisors (GMA).

In a report, the firm said legislative delays and construction challenges will prevent a 2024 launch. The Japanese government already delayed plans to establish the regulatory body to oversee its casino industry and delayed outlining a framework of regulations until after summer elections.

Not all areas support gaming venues. A poll of Yokohama residents found last September that 97 percent of those questioned had negative views of a casino being located there.