Japan to limit casino floor space, ban junkets and online gaming

Japan bill topics discussedThe legalisation and regulation of Japan’s casino industry is a lengthy and complex process, but legislators are getting closer.

On Tuesday, the Experts’ Committee tasked with the job of creating policies for the new casino industry – the ban was lifted last December but it now requires secondary legislation before it gets the green light – met to discuss the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill.

The Committee met at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence to discuss the legislation, and one of the topics reportedly addressed included the size of the casinos.

Japanese media outlets have reported the likely maximum limit of a casino floor space will be set at three percent of the total IR area. The absolute limit will reportedly be set at 15,000 square metres to account for the largest possible IR complex.

But Asian Gaming Brief sources have revealed the precise limits have not been determined yet. The insiders did confirm there would be limitations on the area allowed in each IR.

It is not clear how international operators will take the size limitations, with Las Vegas Sands tipped to be a likely licensee.

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Japanese junkets may not be allowed

GGRAsia also reported on Thursday that the Committee was advised by The Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion (OIRPP) to ban junkets from the Japanese casino industry.

Junkets act as a middleman between the casino and player and create deals for high rollers to in turn lure them to the venue.

The civil servants – part of the OIRRP – have made the recommendation to prohibit “junkets”.

What they define as a “junket” has not yet been revealed.

The reasoning behind the possible exclusion has not yet emerged either, but according to GGRAsia’s source, it may have something to do with issuing and collecting of credit for gambling.

Problem gambling is one issue Japanese lawmakers are wary of which may be one of the reasons why junkets could be prohibited – lines of credit are often dubbed as encouraging problem gambling behaviour.

Other topics which were reportedly discussed on Tuesday included the restriction of ATMs on casino floors and credit cards at the casinos – players would have to purchase chips to use. However, it was also reported this restriction would only apply to local players – international casino players would be able to use credit cards.
The recommendation did not exclude ATMs from the IRs completely, rather they would be located around the resort far from the casino floor. It has not been reported how far away the ATMs had to be.

A strong objection to online casino gaming and sports betting was noted, with the activities unlikely to be available in the venues. Slots and table games were recommended for the casino floors, though.

It is not clear when the IR Implementation Bill will be made public – recent reports suggested it may be August at the earliest, with a debate by parliament not expected until 2018.

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