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Japan Prime Minister refuses to approve online casinos

Japan will gladly accept integrated resorts (IR) into its economy, but that will be the best they will be offering for now. As online casinos would not be considered at this time.

Nagasaki and Osaka are awaiting confirmation that their IR projects meet the requirements of government regulators. Within the next couple of months, they may learn a thing or more, but they can be rest assured that there will not be much competition within the country.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated clearly at a Budget Committee meeting on Wednesday that online casinos are off the menu. According to him and Japanese legislation, they will continue to be illegal.

Japan Government frowns against online gambling

Kishida made these remarks in reference to Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) lawmaker Issei Yamagishi’s question on the subject. The party has consistently resisted efforts to legalize gambling in the nation, and in 2019 and 2020, it attempted to halt the legalization of IRs.

Yamagishi noted that the amount of public inquiries concerning online casinos has increased, according to statistics from Japan’s National Consumer Affairs Center. There were roughly 100 in 2014, and this number as expected, increased to 500 in the year 2020.

According to the politician, over 2 million people in Japan utilize illicit online casinos. A total of $3.29 million was gambled on keirin, a legal bicycle race, and a total of $5.06 million was staked on authorized horse races.

The Prime Minister made it clear that the government will not condone illegal gambling in any way. He noted that the country’s law enforcement has already begun to focus on online casinos. Some operators have been caught, and the illegal market will continue to be squeezed.

Yamagishi attempted to cast doubt on the government’s IR plans, challenging their effectiveness to curb the gambling problem. He also pointed to the government’s incapacity to properly regulate legal gambling by citing the existence of illegal online casinos.

All measures were ineffective, and Kishida seemed unfazed by the attempt. He emphasized that IRs are more than just casinos. They will also be turned into “MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) and tourist destinations.” Even Las Vegas, the United States’ casino center, is reshaping its landscape to appeal to the same demographics. Kishida stated that, with the support of federal and local authorities, he will crack down on unlawful online casinos.

Japan sets to introduce integrated resorts

Nothing will stop Japan from implementing IRs, and anti-gambling policy measures are a waste of resources. Instead, they should put their focus on ensuring that the industry works in a transparent, safe, and consumer-friendly manner.

Out of about 12 cities, Nagasaki and Osaka were the only two to make it to the end in the race to see who could host an IR. They’re both waiting to see if their proposed projects are approved by the federal government. If that’s the case, one or both IRs could be on their way within the next 5 to 6 years.

Before it can gain clearance, Osaka must overcome some local opposition to its plan. A citizen-led coalition is pushing for a referendum, but it will not be easy. Previous attempts to thwart Osaka’s IR efforts have failed, and this one is expected to follow that path.

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