Walking down the streets of Japan, it is difficult not to notice pachinko parlors. Fundamentally, pachinko machines are the same as slot machines. Pachinko allows players to play for either vouchers which are used to purchase goods on the premises, or for pachinko balls which can be traded for tokens that could be ‘sold’ for cash off-premises by a different vendor. But actual slot machines cannot be found. This is because gambling has been illegal in Japan since 1907, near the end of the Meiji era. There are a few exceptions to the Criminal Code chapter 23 which banned gambling, such as betting on horse, bicycle, motorboat and asphalt speedway motorcycle racing. However, in July 2018, Japanese lawmakers approved a bill that would allow casinos to operate in the country, in the form of integrated resorts.
Japan’s New IR Bill
The bill (Integrated Resort Development Act) that allows casinos to operate in the country in the form of integrated resorts which was enacted on the 27th of July 2018, is a follow up of the initial bill (Integrated Resort Promotion Act) that was enacted in December 2016. This makes gambling legal in Japan after 113 years, Japan-101 have broken down the basics of online casino legality in this article you can see here. Officials in Yokohama, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagasaki and Wakayama have shown interest for the integrated resorts to be built in their cities. However, there are some conditions that apply. Initially only 3 casino licenses will be issued to 3 cities, and a 30% gaming tax is required to be paid to the central and local governments. Of the total floor space, only 3% is allowed to be dedicated to gaming areas. Japanese residents are only allowed to visit the resorts three times a week, or 10 times a month, and entrance is free to international visitors, but Japanese residents will have to pay a fee of 6000 yen ($50). Not many people are supporting the decision to allow gambling according to surveys, which demonstrates 70% of the respondents showing opposition to the integrated resort casinos. This is mainly due to a fear of a gambling addiction forming if the casinos were eventually widely accessible to the local public.
Benefits to the Country
According to analysts, a Japan casino industry could be worth up to $25 billion per year. Not only would casinos bring in a lot of money, it would also increase the income per capita. This is a measure of economic stability, which in turn would influence, not only the benefits to the local economy, but to the local residents too. As an example, money earned by workers at the casino, which has provided new jobs, would be spent at local businesses. If done right, small businesses also make a lot of profit from operating near casinos, such is the case with small businesses in Las Vegas. Massive tax revenues are also generated by casinos which ultimately help the infrastructure of a country to improve.
Last year 49.5 million tourists visited Las Vegas, this resulted in a collective revenue from the 169 large casinos of nearly $22 billion. An integrated resort in Japan would boost domestic, regional and international tourism to the nation, since tourists want an ‘authentic Japanese experience’. Tourists would stay in the local hotels, buy drinks and have expensive dinners. The integrated resorts in Singapore are already expected to draw in an additionally 500,000 international visitors, which gives an indication that Asian countries with quality casinos can be very successful.
Cons of Gambling
Addiction is one of the biggest risks associated with gambling. Three to five gamblers out of 100 suffer from gambling problem and about 750,000 people aged between 14 to 21 have a gambling addiction. Because of this addiction, it could give rise to an increase in crime. Illegal money lending (loan-sharking), money laundering, or theft due to debt are some examples of instances of crimes committed due to gambling.
Small businesses some distance away from the integrated resorts could also be hurt by the lack of customers. These complexes would contain supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, malls, and many different entertainment venues which would be more conveniently located. Local residents and tourists may spend more money at the facilities offered by the integrated resort, or even at the small businesses which are closer to the resorts.