Japan’s Gaming Prospects Heat Up
For years now, many have eagerly speculated that Japan will pass legislation allowing casinos to be opened within the nation. This year, more than in previous years, it looks like Japan may pass such legislation. With things heating up in the Asian gaming market, e.g., in South Korea and The Philippines, and with the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo creeping up, there seems to be more than a hint of urgency to green-light casino development in Japan.
Despite having several forms of legal gaming, such as pachinko, lottery, and race betting, Vegas-style games are not currently permitted in Japan. The opposition to casinos in Japan has cited problem gambling and opportunities for increased organized crime activity as concerns. However, promises of multi-billion dollar foreign investments and the allure of a mechanism for economic recovery may outweigh those concerns this time around. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has voiced his support for legalizing casinos as a potential means by which to revive the economy, forming part of his “Abenomics” strategy.
This summer, unless snagged by procedural issues, Parliament is expected to pass legislation for four casino resort licenses. Diet member Takeshi Iwaya of the Liberal Democratic Party leads the push for resort gaming in Japan and has multi-party support. At least one casino is expected for Tokyo, and another in Osaka. We believe that Japan could become one of the most lucrative gaming markets in the world (behind Macau). With the passage of this legislation, Japan will likely become the stage for one of the fiercest battles for casino licenses the world has ever witnessed.
Anthony Mumphrey, III, Principal
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Senior Analyst, Economics & Gaming
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