Category Archives: Japan

Wakayama sees 33 proposals for new integrated resort

Citizens of Yokohama, Japan, may not want a casino, but this won’t be a problem. There are plenty of other areas that are more than happy to receive a gambling operation and reap the rewards of the investment. One of these is Wakayama on Japan’s south central coast, which has already received 33 proposals for an integrated resort.

Wakayama sees 33 proposals for new integrated resortWakayama published a request for information (RFI) in August to gauge the response on resort construction. Regulators said they wanted to receive “ideas from domestic and overseas entities, regarding the resort-type IR which Wakayama Prefecture aims to introduce, including IR plans, investment intentions for related developments of [the] surrounding area, [and] measures to prevent adverse effects such as problem gambling.”

Plans involve building the resort on a man-made island measuring about 98.8 acres in Marina City. The island is already home to a couple of hotels, as well a theme park, and can easily support another venue that offers as many as 2,500 additional hotel rooms.

Seven of the proposals came from international companies, with the rest being submitted by domestic suitors. There is still a lot of work to be done, however, as Japan has yet to finalize where the initial three casino resorts will be located.

Wakayama is an ideal setting for a resort, but it is facing an uphill battle. There are three prefectures that are said to be the top contenders—Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo—and the closest airport to Wakayama is the international airport in Osaka. However, since Yokohama citizens don’t seem to like the idea of a resort coming to their backyard, it might help Wakayama’s case. The prefecture’s governor, Yoshinobu Nisaka, has been told that its proximity to Osaka would not necessarily preclude it from being considered.

According to reports, around 40 municipalities would like to see an integrated resort as part of their landscape. Japan has already formed a Casino Administration Committee to oversee the selection process, as well as the regulation of gaming operators once the industry starts to bloom. That, however, is expected to not happen for at least another five to six years, following several vetting processes and resort construction.


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Japan residents take casino crash course ahead of IR opening

A growing number of residents in Japan have been enrolling in casino schools in anticipation of the country’s anticipated opening of integrated resorts.

Japan residents take casino crash course ahead of IR openingThe Agence France Presse reported that Japanese casino schools have seen a meteoric rise in the number of enrollees wanting to learn how to deal baccarat games, spin roulette wheels and supervise betting on green baize tables. Casino school owner Masayoshi Oiwane pointed out that more Japanese are hoping to land a job in the lucrative gambling industry based on the “unprecedented level of enrollment momentum.”

In pitching for the passage of the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill (IR Bill), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe argued that the integrated resorts will help attract foreign investments, which, in turn, will boost the country’s economy.

The opening of casino resorts in Japan will also create new employment and culture, fueling the country’s international competitive power, according to Abe.

Gaming analysts estimated that the Japanese casino market could be worth $15.8 billion, larger than Las Vegas’ $11 billion market. International credit-debt watcher Fitch Ratings gave a more conservative valuation of $6 billion for Japan’s potential annual gaming revenues.

Japanese casino expert Toru Mihara estimated tens of thousands of jobs will be created even if the government decides to allow just a single brick-and-mortar facility in the country. Aside from gaming, Mihara believes that Japanese government should pursue conference and exhibition businesses.

“Tourists will come to energize various regions. This can grow as a new and major industry,” Mihara said, according to the news outlet.

On Tuesday, the lower chamber of the Japanese Diet made history when it approved the IR Bill. In a nutshell, the bill paves the way for the construction of casinos in up to three locations in the country. The bill also limits Japanese residents from entering casinos by imposing a ¥6,000 (US$54) entrance fee and by setting a maximum of three casino visits per week and 10 visits per month for locals.

The IR Bill is now on its way to the House of Councillors, despite continued strong public opposition to casinos.


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Japanese regulators lower casino chip exchange reporting requirements

Governments around the globe have taken a serious interest in trying to curtail the amount of money laundering that is supposedly plaguing the gaming industry. Canada and British Columbia have been busily enacting legislation to prevent repeats of the negative publicity surrounding questionable activity at the River Rock Casino, and the U.S., the UK and Australia have also been exploring changes in policies to help clean up the system. Japan is now joining the fight, and recently ordered changes in reporting guidelines at casinos in the country.

Japanese regulators lower casino chip exchange reporting requirementsOperators of future casinos in Japan will be obligated to report customers who exchange chips worth $9,500 (¥1 million) or more. Regulators are responding to concerns that the casinos will be havens for the exchange of “dirty money” that is used for money laundering or financing terrorism. The new casinos are slated to be opened in integrated resorts in an effort to bring in more international tourism to the island nation.

Anyone who buys or cashes chips worth $9,500 or more will have to provide their name, address and birth date to casino operators. This information will then be turned over to a casino management committee, which will be created at a later date by the government. That entity will catalog the data and investigate any instances that raise flags, such as repeated high-dollar exchanges.

Japan isn’t the first country to introduce these money-laundering countermeasures. In the U.S., Nevada regulators require that casinos follow the same guidelines, and in Singapore the amount is less, at roughly $7,600. Macau has also placed restrictions on exchanges, with Large-Amount Transaction Reports being required for exchanges by junkets of more than around $62,000. Suspicious Transaction Reports are more vague, and are required for any transaction that is thought to be associated with money laundering.

Money laundering is big business. In 2012, a report by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that money-laundering activities amounted to as much as $3.6 trillion per year. That report brought about changes to multiple industries, including gambling, corporate reporting and banking.

Japan is set to re-enter the gambling market with the new casinos. Almost all forms of gambling, except pachinko and horseracing, have been prohibited. However, a change of heart by the Japanese parliament has opened the doors for casinos to enter the country. If everything goes according to plan, Japan anticipates an increase in tourism that jumps by 16 million visitors by the year 2020, up from the 24 million recorded in 2016.


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Anxious casino operators seek clarity as Japan opens public debate

Casino heavyweights are anxiously watching the public debate on casinos in Japan as they seek clarity in a multi-billion dollar prospect that is now muddled by evolving gambling regulations.

Anxious casino operators seek clarity as Japan opens public debateAnalysts have been warning for months that the Japanese government is nipping the casino industry’s full potential in the bud as it toys with the idea of imposing regulatory curbs.

Bloomberg reported that many operators are following the developments in the public debate on Japan’s effort to allow casinos over fears that the multi-billion dollar potential in the island nation will turn into a dud.

“Our common goal is to see the introduction of world-class integrated resorts in Japan that drive economic, tourism and employment growth,” Steven Tight, president of international development at Caesars Entertainment, told the news agency.

“The government policy makers should ensure that the legislative framework doesn’t inadvertently hinder these aims.”

During the public debate, the Japanese parliament will deliberate anything that concerns the casinos – from gaming floor space to taxes imposed on operators. Casino operators, however, are keen on knowing whether the locals will be allowed to gamble in casinos or not.

Many Japanese are cool to the idea of having casinos in their country, especially when most of the residents associate gambling with organized crime and addiction.

In a study conducted by news service Jiji last month, most of the respondents cited disruption to public order and the negative influence on youth as the top reasons why they opposed casinos in Japan.

Then there’s also the issue on where to put these integrated resorts. The clear favorite cities so far are Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo.

“I don’t think there’s any need to establish a facility so dangerous that it needs this much regulation,” Takeo Shibata, a professor at Seigakuin University in Tokyo, said at the hearing, according to the report. “We can be a tourist destination without casinos and with a clean image that will be reassuring for visiting families.”


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