Japan May Ban Junket Operators from Future Casino Resorts

As Japanese legislators are moving forward with crafting the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill, new details have emerged about the way the country’s nascent casino industry will be regulated.

According to reports from local media, the Diet, known to be the country’s government, has been advised to ban junket operators. It is still unknown, however, how the consultants working with lawmakers have defined junkets.

In the context of Macau’s casino industry, junket operators are companies that promote one casino or another to potential VIP customers. They are also known to be collecting and granting credits for such customers to use for gambling purposes. Some of the practices deployed by Macau’s junkets have been criticized vocally over the years. There have even been such operators to have been linked to potentially illicit activities in relation to their operations.

Singapore, which hosts Asia’s second largest casino market with its two integrated resorts, has been using another system for attracting high value players to gambling venues. The so-called player agent system allows licensed agents lure players from different parts of the Asia-Pacific region. However, these agents cannot grant credits to casino players. There are two licensed promoters in Singapore and both have been working with the Resorts World Sentosa integrated resort for some time now.

Japanese lawmakers have previously pointed out that the country’s casino regulatory framework would be broadly based on those of Nevada and Singapore, which could mean that a form of the latter’s player agent system could be introduced in Japan.

Reports have emerged that during a Tuesday meeting between experts working with the Diet on the IR Implementation Bill discussed the possibility of ATMs to be prohibited from casino floors. Experts advised the government that ATMs that are installed near the designated casino spaces should not issue credits to players. And that such credits should be issued only by ATMs located at some distance from casino floors.

Casino gambling became formally legal in Japan in December 2016, when the IR Promotion Bill was approved by the Diet. A second piece of legislation – the above-discussed Implementation Bill – now needs to be crafted and voted by lawmakers in order for the regulatory framework under which the industry will be regulated to be set. Said bill is expected to be brought up for vote during an extraordinary Diet session, set to take place during the fourth quarter of the year.

During the Tuesday meeting, experts and lawmakers confirmed that any form of online gambling and sports betting will be prohibited from being provided at Japan’s casinos, once these open doors.

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