Casino Operators Await Clarity on Japanese Gambling Regulations
The attention of major casino operators is firmly fixed on Japan as public hearings have begun over recommended guidelines to govern future casino resorts in the country.
It is thought that the market could be worth as much as $25 billion and players such as MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp are eager for clarity over future regulations. However, early enthusiasm has been tempered amid concerns over whether the guidelines will dampen the potential for growth.
The companies will have the opportunity to contribute to the month-long public comment period. The measures will be debated next month and the resulting bill will be submitted to an extraordinary session of the Japanese parliament in the autumn.
However, it is expected that the first casinos wonâ€™t be open for business for a number of years, probably a few years after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The operators are particularly concerned about regulations governing floor space, taxes and access for locals. If the restrictions become too onerous then it may affect the companiesâ€™ willingness to invest. Some had initially pledged to invest as much as $10 billion but if the regulations are too restrictive they are likely to rethink their positions.
Casino companies are facing a challenge from public opinion. Less than half of Japanâ€™s population support the introduction of casinos as they generally associate gambling with organised crime. Furthermore, the country already has a problem with compulsive gambling in pachinko parlours and race betting.
The issues surrounding casinos are likely to become clearer over the coming weeks and in the meantime executives at major casino operators are sure to be giving the debate their full attention.