Japan made big news in the global gaming industry when legislators approved the gambling bill that will allow the development of Integrated Resorts (IRs) in the country. Legislators are currently in the process of putting together gambling regulation and confirming on the number of gaming licenses that will be issued along with the locations for the potential IRs.
The lucrative gaming market in Japan has all of the top gaming operators in the world interested and a number of them have already expressed an interest to invest billions of dollars in order to be able to secure a coveted gaming license. One of the main reasons for their interest is because the Japanese market is expected to be open to both foreigners and locals.
Foreigners Only
However at the recently concluded Japan Gaming Congress which was held in Tokyo, Wakayama City Mayor Masahiro Obana questioned the decision of allowing locals to be able to gamble at these IRs. The Mayor stated that there were strong public concerns in his city that these IRs will have negative consequences on society such as increasing gambling addictions in the community.
The Mayor’s solution is to follow a gaming model similar to that of South Korea where gambling is permitted to only foreigners – except for the Kangwon Land casino which admits locals. Mayor Masahiro proposed to set up a foreigner only casino in Marina City which is a 40 hectare artificial island that is a big tourist attraction due to its marine sports and golf courses.
Foreign Operators Will Reduce Investment
The Mayor has proposed Marina City as a potential IR site as it already brings in tourists and is also close to the Kansai Airport. Sega Sammy Holdings Inc President Haruki Satomi who was also at the conference was quick to point out to Mayor Masahiro that if legislators decided to ban locals that would automatically have an impact on the country’s gambling industry as it would generate less revenues due to the market being restricted to foreigners only.
Satomi also pointed out that one of the main reasons why foreign gaming operators were clamouring to invest billions into the country was because it was different from South Korea – allowing both locals and foreigners to gamble. Should legislators decide to limit gambling to foreigners only, foreign operators would think twice about the Japanese market and would definitely reduce their investment in IRs.
Problem Gambling Concerns Must Be Addressed
The mayor of Tomakomai city Hirofumi Iwakura also highlighted concerns about problem gambling and said that these issues needed to be addressed more effectively as the community was having serious concerns about IRs. Tomakomai city is situated on the island of Hokkaido which gaming analysts believe could be one of the potential IRs locations. Mayor Iwakura has proposed a casino site located close to the New Chitose Airport.
The conference saw government representatives from seven cities who highlighted the pros and cons of what their city had to offer. Each of these local government officials want their city to be awarded a casino license as it will allow them to bring in more investment, create more jobs and boost tourism. Mayor Iwakura believes that it is important for them to put together a stronger framework that makes it easy for the Japanese people to easily understand the pros and cons that these proposed IRs will have on the community, thereby making it easier for them to make an informed decision on the proposal.
Requirements For A Casino License
Gaming experts in the country have put together a report outlining the key requirements that must be met for gaming operators to obtain a casino license in Japan. The report was submitted to the Prime Minister’s office and states that casino developers must be willing to build a hotel, a convention centre, casino, shopping malls and non-gaming entertainment facilities to promote tourism in the country.
The panel of experts have also asked local governments and their designated cities to collaborate with gaming operators and come up with plans for their proposed IRs and then submit these development plans to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry for review.

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.