Gambling Addiction Bill Passes Through Lower Chamber of Japanese Legislature

Posted on: May 29, 2018, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: May 29, 2018, 02:37h.

A bill that would put into place measures to prevent gambling addiction has passed through Japan’s House of Representatives, marking a small step towards the eventual passage of a bill that would allow for casinos in the country.

Japan gambling addiction bill
Pachinko parlors like this one are popular among gamblers in Japan. Japanese legislators plan to limit how often locals would be allowed to visit casinos at integrated resorts in the country. (Image: WikiCommons/Tischbeinahe)

The legislation in question doesn’t actually do anything to legalize integrated resorts in the country. But it appears that the Diet (the Japanese parliament) will need to pass a bill that addresses the social concerns of many officials before they can gather support for a comprehensive gambling bill.

The gambling addiction bill has been passed on to the House of Councillors, the upper house of parliament, where it will receive further consideration and should soon be subjected to a vote.

Diet Hopes to Pass IR Bill Next Month

Discussion of the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill has already begun in the House of Representatives. That legislation would set the guidelines for a future casino industry in Japan. The goal is to get that bill though both houses of the Diet by June 20, when the current parliamentary session ends. GGRAsia reported that the Diet might even consider extending the session to get the bill through this year.

The effort to bring casinos to Japan has been delayed several times. Once upon a time, officials has dreams of opening lavish resorts in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

But even the basic legalization that would eventually allow for casinos didn’t pass until 2016, several years after the idea was first proposed. It was hoped that a bill addressing gambling addiction would be passed in 2017, but that too faced delays that pushed it back to the current session. Now, 2024 is seen as a more realistic date for the opening of the first resorts.

Japanese Public Uneasy About Casinos

Before that can happen, however, officials need to make the prospect of casinos more palatable to the public. Earlier this month, a poll conducted by Kyodo News found that nearly two-thirds of all citizens were opposed to the introduction of commercial casinos.

In addition to the gambling addiction bill, the government is also expected to limit the number of times local citizens are allowed to enter Japanese casinos. It is hoped that these measures will reduce the risk of societal harm – and perhaps lessen the political risk of allowing casinos in the country – without losing out on the tax revenues these resorts would generate.

The Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill was submitted to the Diet by the Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner Komeito last month. That legislation includes a tax rate of 30 percent on gross gaming revenue, and limits locals to visiting casinos no more than 10 times a month or three times a week. Locals would also be required to pay a JPY6,000 ($55) entrance fee on each visit, which would give them access to the casino for 24 hours.

These restrictions won’t slow down the many global gaming operators who will want to break into the Japanese market. According to a forecast by Morgan Stanley, three integrated resorts in Japan could generate about $15 billion in annual revenue by 2025, and major casino firms like Melco Resorts have suggested they would be willing to spend as much as $10 billion to get one of three available licenses.