Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Cabinet Approves Integrated Casino Resort Regulations

Posted on: March 27, 2019, 08:46h. 

Last updated on: March 27, 2019, 08:46h.

The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has formally signed off on regulations that will govern the country’s three forthcoming integrated casino resorts.

Japan casino Shinzo Abe IR bill
Shinzo Abe’s cabinet is betting on casinos to grow tourism in Japan. (Image: Eitan Abramovich/Getty)

Known as the Fourth Abe Cabinet, the 24-member group – which includes Abe himself – ratified the commercial gaming proposals this week. Many details had previously been leaked and covered by Casino.org, but the official declaration is a giant step forward in the Asian nation officially joining the gaming industry that so many of its neighbors have already done.

Though the liberalization of gambling remains unpopular among the Japanese general public, Abe is seeking to transform Japan into a more appealing tourism destination. The goal, his administration says, is “to become an advanced country for tourism.”

Gaming and financial analysts believe Japan’s three casinos will quickly become the second richest casino market in the world behind only China’s Macau.

Predictions for annual gross gaming revenue (GGR) are as high as $16 billion. Nevada casinos won a little more than $11.9 billion last year.

Japan Specifics

Japan is expected to issue three casino permits. And the world’s largest casino operators are desperately trying to gain one of them. Here are some of the rules – should they be so fortunate to acquire entry into the market – they’ll need to play by.

The casino’s accompanying hotel must be at least 100,000 square meters, or roughly 1.1 million square feet. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the average size of a guestroom in the US is 325 square feet. At that rate, each integrated resort in Japan should be expected to have more than 3,300 rooms.

The property must feature convention and exhibition space, and Japanese residents will need to pay a fee to access the casino floor.

The casino must make up no more than three percent of the complex’s total square footage. Gambling marketing and advertising will only be permitted at international airports and cruise ship terminals.

Casinos will need to report to the federal government any customer who makes transactions of one million yen ($9,080) or more in a 24-hour period.

Games Begin

Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Melco Resorts, and Galaxy Entertainment are just a few of the names actively preparing bids for licensure in Japan.

Sands and MGM – the consensus frontrunners for approval – are both pursuing Osaka, one of just three prefectures that has publicly expressed support for welcoming a casino resort.

MGM CEO Jim Murren was in Japan last week for his company’s title sponsorship of MLB’s Opening Series played at the Tokyo Dome. He made it no secret of the casino giant’s plans.

We’ve made a decision to focus all of our energy on Osaka,” the chief executive told Bloomberg. “We believe Osaka is going to be the first integrated resort location. The government is very excited about it.”

Osaka will host the 2025 World Expo, and prefecture and city officials hope to have the casino resort open and on display for the international showcase.