Japan hosts first of public hearing on casino policy

The Japanese government on Thursday held the first public hearing to discuss the framework for the country’s nascent casino industry. The session, held in Tokyo, attracted about 100 people, nearly 20 of whom expressed opinions, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on Friday.

The goal of these public hearings, according to the government, is to address public concerns about potential risks related to casino gambling.

After December’s enactment of an enabling bill legalising casino resorts at the conceptual level, a second piece of legislation – known as the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill – now needs to be approved detailing the specifics: how casinos are administered and regulated; the taxation regime to be applied to them; their location; and the number of licences to be issued.

The public hearings will take place until August 29, in a total of nine cities. After Tokyo, such sessions will be held in: Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Sendai, Sapporo, Nagoya, Toyama and Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, one participant at Thursday’s session asked if the Japanese government had any target date for the opening of a casino resort in the country and if there would be a minimum investment requirement for each integrated resort. The government said these details have yet to be discussed, reported the media outlet.

Earlier this month, Japan’s Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion – a body made up of professional civil servants advising the government on the IR Implementation Bill – delivered to the Japanese government a report featuring a set of suggestions on how to regulate the country’s casino industry.

In Tokyo’s Thursday public session some participants highlighted possible negative social impacts from opening casinos in Japan, including problem gambling and money laundering, reported the Nikkei Asian Review.

Japan’s government is expected to complete its drafting of the IR Implementation Bill after analysing points brought up in the nine public hearings. Several investment analysts covering the gaming sector have said they expect the bill to be submitted to the country’s parliament in the 2017 extraordinary session starting in the autumn.

Brokerage Nomura said in a recent report that a Japanese casino industry with “two major integrated resorts” could eventually generate gross gaming revenue of US$7 billion per year.