According to The Japan Times reports, Japan has suspended the acceptance of bids to host casino resorts in various municipalities. The process is supposed to commence from the 1st day of January 2021 for seven months. The reason for the postponement is not unlikely – COVID-19. No doubt, this will affect some prospective investors negatively.
Before now, the laws in Japan prohibited the establishment of casino resorts in the country. It seemed like the country would not lift the ban until recently when the central government liberalized laws regarding casino operation.
The bidding is for the hosting of three integrated resorts. The casino resorts are expected to have a large hotel, conference rooms, and the best online gambling areas.
Legalized Gambling Activities in Japan
In the past, casinos were prohibited by the Criminal Code of Japan. Meanwhile, only certain forms of gambling were legalized. However, the legalized forms of gambling were permitted to enhance the national and local governments’ revenue. Sports like football pools and lottery were outlined in the country’s special laws.
Other gambling activities that are also legal are:
- Bicycle racing
- Horse racing
- Asphalt motorcycle racing
- Power racing
Local governments regulate these types of gambling. Nevertheless, the prize pool for the gamblers was generated from 75 to 80 percent of the tickets’ entire sale. Usually, the betting tickets are sold at circuits or booths across the cities. Also, lotteries are the most popular form of betting in Japan. The prize is often huge compared to other legalized gambling events.
Casino Laws in Japan
All these while, casino gambling was illegal until recently when the government liberalized the gambling laws. In 2018, the Japanese lawmakers passed a bill to legalize the operation of casinos in the country. The bill aims to establish three casinos in the form of Integrated Resorts (IR) in various locations across the country. However, the lawmakers also set out some restrictions:
- Japanese locals are not permitted to visit the casino more than three times weekly or more than ten times monthly.
- Visitors to the casino will pay 6,000 yen as an entrance fee to curb addiction.
Consequently, a regulating body known as Casino Administration Committee (CAC) was established on the 7th day of January 2020 to supervise the IR operators’ activities. According to G&M News, Michio Katamura was made the chairman of the committee. Other functions of the committee include issuing operating and revoking licenses, and investigating operators if there is any suspicion of wrongdoing.
Tsukasa Akimoto and the Casino Biding Postponement
According to the reports by The Japan Times, it is believed that the arrest of Tsukasa Akimoto for a graft scandal may also be a reason for the suspension of the bidding process. Tsukasa Akimoto is a former member of the House of Representatives.
Don’t forget, the citing of casinos was prohibited in Japan. Tsukasa Akimoto was the brain behind the legalization of casinos in Japan. He spearheaded the whole initiative to legalize casinos in Japan.
According to reports, two of the advisers in 500.com Ltd pleaded guilty to bribing Tsukasa Akimoto regarding the casino IR projects. Masahiko Konno and Katsunori Nakazato pleaded guilty at the first hearing of the Tokyo District Court case. They stated that Tsukasa Akimoto accepted the bribe to assist their company win a bid for three of the casino IR projects. 500.com Ltd is a Chinese company.
There are reports that the crime was allegedly committed in September 2017. It is alleged that Konno and Nakazato visited Tsukasa Akimoto in Tokyo and gave him Yen3 million as a bribe. Apart from the bribery scandal, it is also alleged that Akitmoto asked Konno and Nakazato to give false testimonies in Court.
The Proposed Date for the Commencement of the Casino IR Bidding Process
It does appear that there is no specific date for the commencement of the casino IR project. However, some sources believe that proceedings will be suspended until next fall.
Other factors that have delayed the process include some candidates finding it difficult to choose their operators. With all these events, the Central government believes that even if the applications were opened, the bidding process would be flawed. More so, some cities like Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki have shown interest to bid for the hosting of the casino IR.
Just like other events, the entire process will proceed in the latter part of next year. Most likely, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic may have reduced too.
Most investors are anxious and can’t want to dive into the Japanese casino market. Several statistics have shown that both the government and investors will benefit significantly from the growing casino interest in Japan.
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has played down so many wonderful events that would have taken place this year. However, considering the various efforts at developing a vaccine for the pandemic, the Japan casino IR project will commence next year.