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Japan Casino Regulation Policy Outline Released

A policy outline by Japanese lawmakers that details how casinos should be regulated in the country was released recently in what is a major step toward a vote on a casino legalisation bill. 

For some time the East Asian country has debated over whether to legalise and regulate casinos, with a number of representatives from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party rallying behind the push.

There has been a growing desire in recent years to legalise and regulate casinos and gaming in Japan, which is the only developed country in the world that does not have casinos. It follows a gaming boom in Asia and around the world over the last decade that has helped grow the economy in places such as Macau.

A major component of the policy outline states that the Japanese government should form an independent gaming regulator that would oversee all casinos and gaming establishments in the country that are created should the bill pass. It is believed the regulator functions would be based on similar regulators that exist in Singapore and the US state of Nevada.

The outline also recognises the potential for criminal organisations to be involved in a gaming market and highlights potential ways to stop that from happening in Japan, in particular, providing a strict licensing criteria.

“The hurdles to enter the business should be set high. It should not be easy for anyone to get a license and participate in the industry,” the policy outline states. “With proper regulation and enforcement of the law, there is absolutely no reason for casinos to become hotbeds of criminal activity.”

While both the pro and anti-casino lobbyists have been prominent in the debate, the pro casino side has seemed to be gaining more support in recent times. It comes after Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, was named as the city that would play host to the Olympic Games in 2020.

The hosting of the 2020 Olympics are set to make Tokyo the focus of the world and will likely attract hordes of tourists, as all Olympics tend to do. More tourists means that more money is likely to be spent in Japan during the games and a huge amount of revenue could be seen if Japanese casinos are established by then.

It is a possibility that has caught the eye of those presiding over a country with a consistently underperforming economy. The Japanese economy is notorious for having stagnated since the 1990s following a rapid and impressive economic ascendency following the Second World War.  

Despite that, Japan is seen as potentially having the second largest gaming market in all of Asia after Macau. Should that be the case, a Japanese gaming industry could inject millions of dollars into the country’s economy, something that is likely to be welcomed by Japan’s politicians.  

A bill to formally legalise and regulate casinos is set to be put forward in Japan’s parliament before the end of the year and could be passed in early 2014. A minor Japanese political party outlined its desires to put forward its own casino legalisation bill in June. However, it appears that hastily organised bill was not introduced in order to make way for the upcoming bill.

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