Japan flip-flops on locals in casinos; mega-bettor okayed to deduct losing wagers


japan-casino-locals-flip-flopJapanese legislators have backtracked on their plans to prohibit Japan’s citizens from (initially, at least) entering the country’s proposed new casinos. Earlier this week, the Yomiuri Shimbun quoted sources saying members of the ruling Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) had agreed to limit casino entry to foreigners-only to satisfy concerns of their coalition partner Komeito over the potential social harms of casino gambling on Japanese citizens. The sources said locals would be allowed into the gaming halls only following passage of separate legislation.

It was all bollocks, apparently. On Friday, Reuters reported that Japanese nationals would be allowed into the casinos on opening day just like everybody else. A source close to the legislative group promoting passage of the casino study bill claimed lawmakers had ”confirmed” that locals would not be excluded. The source said lawmakers had “agreed that we will make a partial change” to the draft legislation “to address concerns that have been raised, to say that we will take necessary measures.”

These measures, which will include a Singapore-style casino entry levy on local residents, will be spelled out in more detail when Japan gets around to drafting its second piece of casino legislation in the new year. The casino study bill currently awaiting approval in the fall session of parliament would amend Japan’s constitution to permit the long-banned casinos, while a second bill would address specifics of regulation and licensing. The target is to open the first casino’s doors by 2020.

In still more positive news, a Japanese court has ruled that a high-rolling horseracing bettor can write off his gambling losses as a legitimate business expense. A 41-year-old plaintiff had sued to wipe out a ¥810m (US $7.5m) tax bill he’d been handed for the ¥3.66b in winnings he’d earned betting online between 2005 and 2009. The plaintiff argued that the scale of his winnings was illusory, given that he’d spent ¥3.5b to make those wagers. But the taxman allowed him to deduct only the ¥150m he’d spent on those bets that actually paid off.

Last year, the Osaka District Court ruled in the bettor’s favor, saying his losses were legitimate expenses given that wagering was his primary meal ticket. On Thursday, the Court officially wiped all but 10% of the man’s tax obligation. The news will likely cheer another horse bettor, who filed a similar lawsuit in Tokyo District Court in May. But prosecutors have appealed the Osaka verdict to the Supreme Court, which has never before ruled on the legitimacy of betting expenses. Until those casinos open in 2020, horseracing remains one of the few legally permitted forms of gambling in Japan, along with boat, bicycle and motorcycle racing, plus the pseudo-gambling pastime of pachinko.