Just about every international casino operator in the world is eager to enter the newly licensed Japanese casino market which experts predict could be a strong rival to Macau and Las Vegas. The competition to secure one of the three licenses to operate an integrated casino resort in the country is fierce and things are moving in the right direction after the Diet committee passed a casino resort bill on July 19.
Yakuza Crime Group Targeting Japanese Casino Market
The gambling industry has always attracted its fair share of criminals and shady operators all over the world. The Italian mafia has had ties to the casino industry in Europe and it now appears that the Yakuza crime group in Japan has set its sights on the Japanese casino industry. These reports surfaced after a high-ranking gangster from the Kanto region corresponded with the Asahi Shimbun media outlet in Japan.
The criminal organization which is similar to the Italian mafia intends to offer their shady services in these integrated resorts. The new gambling market, which Morgan Stanley has projected to grow into a $15 billion industry by the year 2025, presents a big business opportunity for the Yakuza, who will probably engage in junket and loan-sharking operations, similar to the modus operandi of the Hong Kong triads in Macau.
Now that the legal provisions are in place, the gangster claims that the Yakuza clan can now map out how to circumvent them. Besides tapping into the constructing and development market of these integrated casino resorts, the Yakuza also have more devious ideas to make money off of the Japan’s new-fangled gaming industry.
The gangster goes on to say that for the Yakuza, there is always a method of concealing their operations from scrutinous eyes. In the past, the Yakuza have been known to masquerade as construction companies and join projects as subcontractors as a front for their operations.
Nefarious Plans
The casino legislation limits how many times a person can go to a casino over a certain duration of time (too many visits forces you into a “cooldown period”), as well as enforcing entrance fees and other restrictions. The primary prospect of organized crime in Japan is to build and operate illegal casinos that would allow gamers to get around these government restrictions.
Another Yakuza member from a gang in Western Japan says that once the locals get a taste of playing at a licensed casino, they will want to go back for more and when they find themselves being restricted, they will look elsewhere. Illegal casinos are going to pop up where the law has the least influence, such as regional cities and other outlying areas and the Yakuza will run these establishments giving locals free access.
The high-ranking Kanto gangster also cited examples of how they would exploit Japan’s new casino market: they could provide VIPs with airline tickets to Japan and hotel accommodations, loan them money, and charge them with outrageous interest rates when they’re on their way out.
They could also insert their own dealers and other operatives, to ensure that players of their choosing would consistently win their games. Whether that certain player would be oblivious to this or if the Yakuza would enter into an agreement with the player, was not mentioned. They would then be able to charge the winning player for their special services.
Preventive Measures
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has reported that there has been a marked increase in Yakuza members who hide their affiliation. The Police Department says that this is a clear sign of preparing to infiltrate the new industry, and steps have to be taken to stop them.
In light of this expected wave of illegal behaviour, some establishments in Japan have already prepared measures to detect if their customers or employees have links to organized crime. To combat the expected mischief that the Yakuza is brewing; the government had formed the Casino Oversight Committee to watch over the Japanese gaming industry, ensuring that they are law-abiding and trustworthy.
As such, many doubt that the Casino Oversight Committee which is expected to be fully operational by the time the casino industry gets into stride will be able to smoke out illicit operations at all.
The government also plans to utilize state-of-the-art biometric identification technology, such as facial and fingerprint recognition, in order to identify known members of organized crime. The Japanese government will have to invest copious amounts of time, money, and manpower in order to defeat the Yakuza in a battle of wits.

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