Japan’s legal framework for casinos set to go live

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Japanese PM heralds future integrated resorts as tourism drivers

The legal framework for casinos that will assist in governing Japan’s planned trio of integrated casino resorts will go live from July 19.

World Casino Directory reports that as well as the specific duties and responsibilities of the new Casino Management Board regulator, the legislation will lay out the integrated resort’s basic rules.

The Integrated Resorts Implementation Act will act as a framework for casinos and was ratified in 2018 and is due to allow three Japanese jurisdictions to operate a Las Vegas-style development complete with casinos.

These gambling-friendly venues are to be run under 40-year licences and permitted to over a range of currently banned games, including two types of baccarat and eight derivations of poker.

The new legislation comes after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga completed a public consultation period 10 weeks ago that allowed communities to refine their proposed submissions.

Front runners for a local gambling licence include Nagasaki, Wakayama, Yokohama and Osaka.

The tenets of the new legislation cover disparate fields including the licensing procedures for casinos and types of background checks required for casino games and rules.

The new laws will deal with technical and structural standards, lay out how venues should calculate gross gaming revenues and what internal controls must be employed to prevent money laundering and problem gambling.

Japanese scholar Toru Mihara said that the legislation was designed to be “sufficiently stringent” to help ensure the “integrity and safety” of the Asian nation’s upcoming casino industry and lays out just who can take part in such a scheme.

The expert disclosed that the act will establish a series of employee verification protocols that will simultaneously set out the precise definition of a gaming area.

Although it had initially been forecast that the first of Japan’s three integrated resorts would open by the end of 2025, the appearance of the coronavirus pandemic saw the legislation delayed.

This interruption and the delay in the framework for casinos means that these developments with their multiple hotels, conference facilities, casinos, restaurants and retail elements are now not likely to be welcoming guests before 2030.

Wakayama’s preferred casino operator is Canadian firm Clairvest Group

Wakayama prefecture governor Yoshinobu Nisaka announced that Clairvest Neem Ventures, a subsidiary of Canadian investment firm Clairvest Group, had been selected to proceed with the prefecture’s bid.

This makes Clairvest the first integrated resort operator partner to be announced among the four regions known to be pursuing one of three integrated resort licences to be issued by Japan’s national government, the others being Osaka, Yokohama and Nagasaki.

The prefecture is hoping to open its facility in spring 2026 although Clairvest has proposed autumn 2027.

According to published information, Clairvest’s integrated resort concept is based on a theme of “land of wood and a land of water” with nature at its core.

The total floor area would be about 569,000 square metres, of which a casino facility will cover around 38,000 square metres.

It will also offer 2700 rooms and an international exhibition hall with a large conference hall that can accommodate 3000 people.

Clairvest expects to invest big in Wakayama

Notably, Clairvest has proposed an investment of US$4.3 billion versus U$2.6 billion suggested by Wakayama under its fundamental concept.

Both the scale of the investment and target number of visitors put forward by Clairvest are much larger than Wakayama’s own estimations.

The integrated resort is planned to be built on an artificial island called Wakayama Marina City.

The selection of Clairvest comes after Suncity Group withdrew from the race, citing an uncertain global business environment.

It was recently revealed that Suncity had in fact scored higher than Clairvest based on the selection committee’s initial assessment.

Their absence had sparked suggestions Wakayama may itself withdraw from the Japanese integrated resort race, but after deciding to name Clairvest as its partner, the Governor said: “We can take the next step with confidence. Moreover, we will probably be able to obtain national approval if we improve on the plan.”

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