Japan’s potentially lucrative commercial casino market has been years in the making and has seen frequent delays, but a development in recent weeks signals new progress.
Japanese lawmakers moved forward what is known as the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill, which seeks to put in place the rules and regulations for the new casinos, opportunities that have drawn the interest of American gaming giants such as MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands.
Under the IR Implementation Bill, Japan would only have three casino complexes, at least initially. The gambling operations would be taxed at 30 percent. There would also be an entry fee for locals, currently proposed at US$55. Additionally, locals would have restrictions on the number of times they could visit the casinos to gamble each month.
The point behind the rules, which would seem strange by Las Vegas standards, is to use the integrated resorts to drive international tourism, rather than growing gambling spend among Japanese citizens. Japan also wants to limit potential gambling addiction and other problematic play by its population.
The legislation is expected to pass by July, according to media reports.
Japan technically legalized casinos in late 2016, but that separate legislation didn’t contain the rules regarding implementation. If all goes well in the country’s parliament this summer, Japan could have its first casino open in 2023. Bidding on the casino licenses could begin next year.
Government officials initially wanted to have the first casino open in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but the casino issue turned out to be too complex.