BUSINESS

Japan’s casino concerns lead to new curbs on race betting

TAGs: Japan

japan-online-race-betting-limitsConcerns over Japan’s plans to introduce casino gambling have resulted in new curbs on the country’s other forms of legal gambling.

As Japanese legislators continue to limp toward finishing their secondary casino legislation, they are ever mindful of public concerns that the nation’s already large percentage of problem gamblers once fare even worse with newer, flashier legal gambling options arrive. A new government study of gambling addiction rates is scheduled to be completed next month.

On Tuesday, the Japan Times reported that cabinet ministers had announced a number of new curbs on existing gambling activities, including unspecified ceilings on how much racing punters can wager online. The online betting limits, which won’t take effect until fiscal 2022, will affect Japan’s legal horse, bicycle, motorcycle and powerboat racing operators.

The government also intends to accelerate plans to eliminate the presence of automatic teller machines from land-based racing events and off-site betting offices. Two of Japan’s three bicycle racing venues have already removed their ATMs this month. The ATMs still in operation at betting venues will have their cash advance functions disabled by the end of March 2018.

The nation’s legions of pachinko gamblers will be saddled with a roughly one-third reduction in the number of little silver balls their machines award as prizes. This change was telegraphed in July, leading to sharp sell-offs in the shares of Japan’s publicly-listed pachinko operators.

When those new casinos eventually open, family members of problem gamblers will be able to request that their addicted loved ones be banned from setting foot on a casino gaming floor. Similar measures are in place in Singapore, and Japanese legislators have sought to mimic that city-state’s gaming regulations, despite the obvious differences in scale between the two jurisdictions.

Japan’s Diet is scheduled to return for its abbreviated extraordinary session next month, and casino proponents expect the government to make a concerted effort to introduce and approve the secondary casino legislation before the end of the year. Analysts have suggested that 2024 could be the earliest date by which Japan might actually see a working casino on its soil.

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