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A leading casino expert has warned casinos based in Macau that getting licensed in Japan when they bring in their new integrated resorts may not be as easy as they think.
Part of the reason is because of how these license agreements have been designed by Japan, where they mandate a promise that any casino who operates there will fit into their societal expectations, and will not do things such as promote excess gambling.
Hayato Terai, a legal expert in Japan, has said there will be challenges in the road ahead as they try and get themselves licensed, especially given that only three gaming licenses are expected to be available to start with. That leaves a tight squeeze for any company that does not quite tick all the boxes, or leaves question marks over exactly how they will achieve it.
Terai was speaking at the Asia Gaming Summit in Taipei, and he told the media afterwards that he felt compared to Macau, Japan could be considered “conservative”, and on that basis it could take some of these companies “a while” to prove they could fit in with the casino operators they wanted to attract.
However, Terai was sure that he felt this underlying political stance would not have any effect on gamblers from China visiting Japanese casinos, and said they would all be welcomed.
Part of what is keeping a structure for these new casinos is the recent Integrated Resort Implementation Bill, which was passed by politicians earlier this year. This determines how each casino must operate, with a strict set of rules and regulations to adhere to.
One clear reason why visitors from China and other neighbouring countries are likely to be welcomed and marketed at is because there are more restrictions on how the Japanese can gamble.
The new bill states that a resident of Japan can only visit a casino ten times a month, and to do so each time must pay a fee of 6,000 yen to enter. While this in effect to prevent the build-up of problem gambling, it cannot be enacted to tourists and so casinos will be relying on this to bump up their income.
It will be an interesting set of decisions for the regulators to figure out who they will welcome in. Terai believes although casino operators from places such as Macau may struggle to fit the bill at first, they also have previous experience of running large casinos.
This cannot be said for the Japanese bidders in the process, which are the pachinko operators and cannot have the same backing of decades of experience of large casinos running behind them. This will put them in a more difficult position in one stance, although arguably they will find it much easier to prove they understand Japanese morals in that part of the process.
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