The frame work of Japan’s nascent commercial casino industry continues to be laid , after the Diet prime minister Shinzo Abe passed its Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill last month.
The government has now revealed that it will soon establish a dedicated government agency – dubbed the Casino Administration Committee – which will oversee all aspects of industry regulation.
The new bill – unprecedented in Japanese history – offers three multi-billion-dollar licences to prospective operators. Gaming tax is to be set at 30 per cent, whilst all Japanese residents will pay a $55 door fee for the privilege of entry.
This last measure can be seen as a nod to the substantial anti-gambling lobby in the country. Casinos have met with opposition from both political and public quarters in Japan, with detractors citing concern over the potential growth of what they claim to be an unusually high rate of gambling-addiction within Japanese society.
That hasn’t stopped Abe’s cabinet from proceeding apace with development plans. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, ministers recently held an “explanation meeting” with local officials from around 40 municipalities eager to host one of the new resorts.
Osaka seems tipped as being head of the line. Both MGM and Melco Resorts have paid for public events in the city this summer – whilst Melco CEO Lawrence Ho went so far as to throw $500,000 into a fund to aid local victims of a recent earthquake. Indeed, public records show that the prefecture’s governor Ichiro Matsui has been courted by as many as 11 casino operators in just over year.
Matsui himself has been open as to his support for a prospective Osaka IR – claiming that he hopes such a venture could be open by 2023 “at the latest.”