Monday, February 19

Japan Opens First Casino, Despite Major Gambling Problem in the Country

According to a Gaming Commission brochure, know your limits and when to stop. Japan is just getting started. The country’s first casino will open in 2029. Fear of gambling addiction loses out to the desire to attract tourists.

Japan has strict gambling laws, but in 2018 it was decided that some resorts may have casinos. Since then, it has been searching for locations. The first location approved is in Osaka. On an artificial island off the coast, a hotel, conference centre, shopping centre, museum and casino are being built.

The construction will cost 1.08 trillion yen (7.4 billion euros). The site will be operated by a consortium of companies, the largest of which are US casino giant MGM Resorts and Japanese financial services company Orix. Together they own 40 percent of the shares.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hopes Osaka will become a “tourist hub that will spread Japan’s charm worldwide.” It is estimated that 20 million Japanese and foreign tourists will visit the casino resort yearly, which should generate at least 1.1 trillion yen (7.5 billion euros). In addition, there is work for 15,000 people.

Not everyone is happy with the plans. Gambling advocacy groups have written to the government expressing their “serious concerns”. Gambling addiction is a significant problem in Japan. According to a 2017 government survey, 3.2 million Japanese people had experienced gambling problems at some point.

There is an illegal gambling circuit, but much money is also involved in legal gambling. Lotteries are allowed, as is betting on sports competitions such as horse racing and keirin, a Japanese cycling race on the track.

However, the most popular game is Pachinko, a combination of slot machines and pinball machines. Players cannot win money directly with Pachinko as the law does not allow it. However, they can exchange the metal balls they win for a token and exchange it for money at a place outside the Pachinko location.

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