Japan Says No to Legalizing Casinos

By in Casino on

One of the largest untapped gambling markets in the world is passing on legalizing casinos. Japan has officially ceased it’s plight to overturn a ban on casinos and may not consider approaching the matter again until later in the year.

The long journey to legalize casino resorts in Japan was nixed last October, and Japan officials opted not to pick it back up again in January. This month, the team that had been pieced together to make a strong push for legalizing casinos was officially disbanded.

Dead Bill

Per Asia Gaming Brief, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has dismantled their 30-member squad that had previously been working on legislation that would argue for legalizing gambling in Japan. There had been faint hopes that the Japan government would finally bring an end to it’s harsh stance against gambling, but recent events suggest a long wait is still ahead.

There had initially been hope that gambling would be made legal in time to have casinos in place for the Tokyo Olympics, which are slated for 2020. Numerous delays have held up any real progress over the past few years, however, eventually leading to what amounts to a “dead bill” now in 2016.

No Sure Bet

The future of gambling in casinos doesn’t look overly promising in Japan, as the earliest a new bill could be picked back up is in the fall. There’s no guarantee even that will happen, potentially further pushing back any concrete plans on firms investing in resort planning, as well as any legislation that would naturally have to precede any final investments or resort planning.

Per reports, 2022 may be a more likely target date for a resort casino in Japan, but with the current legislation team being disbanded and no clear end in sight, even that could be overly ambitious.

Tough to Persuade

The biggest roadblock between a new casino resort and Japan is the government and public perception. To this point, both the lawmakers and the public have frowned upon the idea of gambling in Japan, citing gambling addiction.

Of course, there is a very real draw for both the government and public, as Japan could field close to $40 million in gambling revenue per year under the right plan.

Japan already does allow some online gambling, as well as betting on horse racing and motor sports, in addition to a lottery. Per the Japanese Penal Code (passed in 1907), gambling is otherwise generally banned.

Suffice to say, it could take a considerable amount of legislation to overturn such a long-standing ban, regardless of how profitable it may appear. The fact that the Japanese government does benefit from the lottery could be a good stepping stone toward gaining approval in the future, however.

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