Japan's legal casino industry is about to explode
newsonjapan.com -- Jul 30
Japan recently gave the green light to legal casino resorts - how have the plans been affected by the pandemic crisis?

Has COVID-19 put the brakes on Japan’s burgeoning casino industry?

2020 was supposed to be the year that Japan got serious about starting up a regulated, legal casino market. Then came the pandemic, and the postponement of the long-awaited Summer Olympics, forcing some delays to the casino plans as well.

According to the latest from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the halt is only a temporary one, and the planned developments are still going ahead. Supporters of legal gambling establishments are hoping that Abe’s promises will come good, since Japanese online casinos remain prohibited for the time being – you can find out more about that at https://mrcasinova.com/ja.

A closer look at the facts reveals that there are grounds for optimism. In fact, after the current crisis recedes, we can expect to see rapid growth in the near future.

Brief legislative history

Most gambling is effectively illegal in Japan, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t interested. The popularity of pachinko parlours is proof of that fact; analysis shows that the games pull in more annual profit than all of the casinos in Las Vegas combined. Clearly, this is an untapped market with the potential to be of great benefit to the economy.

Recognising this, lawmakers have tried for twenty years to make changes to the strict gambling ban. Just a look at the success of the Macau casino industry during this time is enough to demonstrate what is possible.

The breakthrough came in 2018, when a bill was approved that sanctioned the establishment of casinos within the country. Some rules for locals apply – no more than three weekly casino visits (or ten in a month), and an entrance fee of ¥6,000 – in order to discourage compulsive behaviour.

Integrated resorts

Initial bidding on the first of three so-called integrated resorts started to following year, for proposed sites in Osaka, Tokyo and Yokohama. Strong interest from famous brands such as Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands and MGM illustrated the potential of the market.

MGM eventually won the bid, partly due to the withdrawal of other contenders who now say they are focusing on the other sites. Before the scheme could be greenlit, however, the pandemic struck and left the stakeholders in limbo.

Delays to the process

Authorities insist that plans are still going ahead, with a moderately revised timeline. Where the Osaka resort was originally due to open its doors in 2027, it is now expected to be ready by the following year instead.

There has been a similar delay to other site proposals. Cities and prefectures have been given an extension to make applications for further resorts in their area. According to the government, the legal land casino industry will be up and running before the end of the decade.

Boon for tourism

Despite calls from opposition parties to change course, the government is standing firm in its intention to create casino-based tourist destinations in Japan. According to Abe, the resorts will be a central pillar of the tourism industry, post-COVID.

At present, the response from MGM has been positive. Calling the delays ‘reasonable’, an MGM Resorts Japan spokesperson indicated that they are willing to be patient in the face of an unprecedented situation.

Huge growth expected

Despite the setback, international investors are keen to push ahead with their expansion into Japan. Already a hugely popular tourist destination, the addition of all-inclusive casino resorts is sure to pull in a lot of high-spending visitors.

The legal casino industry in Japan is on the brink of an enormous boom, which will be in full swing well before 2030. Along with Vegas and Macau, Japan could be the next contender for the world’s most popular casino destination.

News source: newsonjapan.com
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