Spectrum Gaming Predicts Two-Year Battle for Three Casino Licenses in Japan

The licensing process for up to three integrated casino resorts in Japan could take up to two years, research firm Spectrum Gaming Group said in its recently published 2018 gaming industry trends list.

According to the independent consultation service provider, major gambling operators will face off in a “battle” for a license in the nascent casino market and it will take up to two years before the names of the winning bidders become clear.

Companies such as Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, and MGM Resorts International, among others, have already set up offices in Japan to explore the local business environment, search for potential local partners, and lobby to increase their chance to win one of the very few licenses that will be available.

Japan’s casino legalization process spans back to the mid-2000s. It was last December when lawmakers eventually cleared the first of a two-stage legalization process, practically legalizing casino gambling in the country. The second phase requires the passage of a separate bill that would set the regulatory framework under which casino gambling services will be provided within Japan’s borders.

That second legislative piece was expected to be introduced and voted before the end of the year, but the recent snap election delayed the progress of a number of legislative matters in the Japanese Diet. According to analysts, the country’s government is likely to pass what will be known as the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill in the first half of 2018.

Lawmakers have one more important matter to discuss before they proceed with crafting and adopting the actual casino laws. Following last year’s passage of the Integrated Resort Promotion Bill, concerns have grown about the social impacts of expanded gambling in the country. The Diet has promised that a proper framework would be developed so as for such negative impacts to be eliminated or at least minimized. There have been reports that the responsible gambling framework could be approved by the end of the Diet’s 2017 legislative session.

UNLV Helps Japan Craft Its Casino Laws

The International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has published two reports aiming to shed as much light on the future of Japan’s casino industry as possible. Both studies were commissioned by the Japanese government.

The first one – Practical Perspectives on Gambling Regulatory Processes for Study by Japan: Eliminating Organized Crime in Nevada Casinos – was published in August and focused on how Japan could prevent organized crime interference in its nascent casino industry. The study presented examples of how Las Vegas and Nevada had coped with the issue and had transformed its gambling industry from one controlled by organized crime bosses into a regulated mechanism.

The second report – Socio-Economic Impacts of Japanese Integrated Resorts – was released in September and featured key recommendations that could help Japanese lawmakers in establishing a well-regulated, but not overregulated casino industry, or an industry that will thrive and boost other economic sectors, while minimizing risks of a boom in problem gambling and crime rates.

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