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Japan to introduce strict gambling ad restrictions

Thu, Jan 24, 11:54am by Staff Writer

Japanese lawmakers enacted controversial legislation legalising gambling resorts after a near two-decade long process.

On July 20, 2018, the “integrated resorts” law was passed, offering casinos along with hotels, entertainment and conference facilities.

The legislation creates a framework for the operation of casino resorts, following up on the integrated-resort promotion law of December 2016.

An initial three casino licenses will be issued with a 30 per cent gaming tax to be paid to the central and local governments.

Gaming areas are limited to three per cent of less of the total resort floor space.

Entry will be free to international visitors but cost US$50 for residents of Japan, who will also be limited to three visits a week and 10 per month.

Following this legislation and talks of an official bidding process for destination cities being imminent, policies have been announced for how gambling operators will be allowed to advertise in Japan.

All advertisements for casino activity will only be allowed in the international terminals of the country’s airports and seaports.

Locations such as railways, buses and tourist information centres are strictly off limits to gambling ads.

Integrated resorts approved in 2018

The official rule will be added to a government ordinance expected to be drafted in March.

The restriction allows for prohibition of advertisements from public view and relegates them to areas where a high volume of international travels are present.

This is designed to prevent gambling addiction according to Calvin Ayre.

Prior to passing, a bill to legalise casino gambling had been held up due to concerns over gambling addiction.

Several polls conducted by media organisations showed that the majority of respondents did not want the bill passed.

In order to get the bill passed, Japan’s ruling party had to emphasise how tightly casino gambling would be regulated, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Japan passed its IR (Integrated Resort) Promotion Act in July 2018, with the IR Promotion Council working diligently to create a framework that would help control the activity and prevent problem gambling.

Integrated resorts were first developed in Las Vegas, in an attempt to draw in more people.

More recently Singapore has used integrated resorts to revive its tourism sector, employment picture and economy.

Its success has attracted the attention of lawmakers in other countries, including those in Japan.

Japan is a lucrative market for investors

Casinos are the biggest profit contributors at these complexes.

The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore earns more than 70 per cent of its total revenue from casino gambling.

The first integrated resort is not expected to open in Japan until 2025.

Osaka is seen as the leading candidate for one of the first three casino licenses and has proposed building a casino and entertainment complex on the artificial island of Yumeshima.

Tokyo and Yokohama are also studying the possibility of an integrated resort, with Tomakomai, on the northern island of Hokkaido another possible destination.

The first three licenses will be valid for 10 years, then renewed every five years after approval of local legislatures.

Major international casino operators have shown interest in Japan, including US-based Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Hard Rock International.

Japan welcomed nearly 16 million international visitors in the first half of 2018, up 16 per cent from 2017 according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation.

Goldman Sachs estimates the nation’s casino market is worth US$15.8 billion if three resorts open, making Japan the world’s second biggest gambling market, after Macau.

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