Gambling in Japan
The gambling situation in Japan has always been quite shaky. The country is considered conservative when it comes to perceiving some traditions or ways of entertainment from the West. Japanese laws have been and still remain extremely strict. They put a fine line between the so-called “skill” games that are legalized in the country and the “luck-based” games that are currently proclaimed as illegal. There are no casinos in the country in the Western sense of the word. Still, there are currently almost 20,000 gambling halls in Japan, which offer “entertainment with prizes” to their visitors.
Currently, Japan is put in the middle of a intense discussions on the matter if it should make casinos legal and permit them in some areas of the country. For several years now, the Bill Promoting Implementation of Specified Integrated Resort Areas, which is also known as the “Casino Bill”, has been aggressively debated. The Bill aims at legalizing casino facilities on the territory of Japan, which are currently banned by the country’s laws. The local legislation is often found confusing for non-Japanese visitors who do not see the logic for the country to have a giant “pachinko” industry, but not to legalize gambling.
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In December of 2016, Parliament passed the Integrated Resort Promotion Law that will change the landscape of gambling in the country. Big players like Las Vegas’ MGM Resorts International are pressing for a part of the business, as expectations are high.
Yokohama and Osaka, Japan’s second- and third-largest cities, are presumed to be the locations for the first casinos. Some of the hopeful government officials expect construction on at least two resorts to be completed before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The new law allows for casino gambling as long as the gaming floor is part of an entire resort complex.
The resort must include a hotel, international conference hall, and entertainment venues. There won’t be any small one-off casinos sprinkled around the area. Operators are subject to a stringent approval process, and only the biggest and the best will come out with a nod of approval.
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