Japanese PM heralds future integrated resorts as tourism drivers

by William Brown Last Updated
Japanese PM heralds future integrated resorts as tourism drivers

New casino integrated resorts in Japan are an important measure to boost tourism in the country, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

GGR Asia reports that Kishida’s comments came while answering questions from representatives across the political spectrum, following a general policy speech.

Large-scale casino complexes with other recreation facilities and space for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition in events, are known as integrated resorts.

Japanese integrated resorts should offer “not only a casino but also MICE and large hotels to entertain families, together with stringent gambling addiction measures,” Kishida added.

Such resorts would “bring a huge number of tourists” and create positive economic effects into the host regions, added the Prime Minister, stressing his government would “take necessary procedures to realise integrated resorts.”

Freshly appointed Minister of Land Infrastructure Tetsuo Saito said on October 5 that Mr Kishida had given him the task of ensuring Japan kept on track with its aim of attracting 60 million inbound visitors annually by the year 2030.

He added that the casino resort policy was a key part of the plan.

Mr Kishida had previously been chairperson of the policy research council of the governing Liberal Democratic Party when the Integrated Resorts Implementation Act, the second piece of enabling legislation for creation of a casino industry, was enacted in 2018.

At that time, he negotiated with Komeito, the LDP’s minority partner in the national government, to establish the bill and steer it through parliament.

The Japanese government opened on October 1 the application period for local authorities to pitch as host for a casino resort and announced the weighting it will give when scoring such requests.

Under the liberalisation program, up to three resorts will be permitted nationally.

Currently, only three communities are in the running – Osaka, Nagasaki and Wakayama.

Casino legal framework goes live

The Integrated Resorts Implementation Act 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.

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