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Japan will be waiting longer before casinos are legalised

In December 2016, a ground-breaking legislation was passed by the Japanese government that would see casinos legalised in the country for the first time since gambling was banned as part of the Criminal Code of 1903.

To make the new laws official, a second piece of legislation must be discussed to establish the details of the new laws, like how many casinos will be permitted to operate and where the casinos will be located.

While the secondary piece of legislation was originally expected to go through the courts in mid-2017, it’s now looking like it will be 2018 before the new legislations appear before the government. Government officials have said it is unlikely the second piece of legislation will be discussed in public any earlier than August, which means it’s likely the legislation won’t be up for parliamentary debate until next year.

This week, Japanese news publication The Yomiuri Shimbun reported the government plans to introduce a strict casino licensing system where operators would be screened before receiving approval, and be required to renew their casino licenses on an ongoing basis.

The government also aims to create a bill detailing the new laws applicable to the running of an integrated casino resort. A draft of the integrated resort bill states that casino operators “are required to have high morals, a sense of responsibility and a clean nature because they will be given a privileged status with exemption from the prohibition of gambling as a crime.”

The new legislation will include stipulations to prevent members from yakuza organised crime groups and “other antisocial forces” from getting involved with the casino industry.

When the first casino legislation was passed by the Diet in December 2016, it was not popular with the public. A poll conducted by the public broadcaster NKH put support for the move at just 12%, with critics concerned the introduction of casinos in Japan would contribute to an increase in problem gambling and crime levels.

The decision may not be popular with the public, but it sure is popular with foreign casino operators and businesses who are vying for a piece of the pie. Amongst the hopefuls wanting to get in on the action in Japan are casino giants Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts and Hard Rock Café International.

A separate organisation has been established to develop procedures to help prevent issues related to problem gambling. The Ministerial Meeting on the Promotion of Countermeasures on Addictions of Gambling is due to take place over the Japanese summer.