Japan’s gamblers could face strict limits on their ability to access casinos under a new proposal submitted by the government this week.
On Thursday, the Japan Times reported that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner Komeito were advancing a plan that would limit local residents to three casino visits per week, and no more than 10 visits every 28 days.
The rules would apply to Japanese nationals and foreigners living in Japan, while international tourists would be exempt. The authorities would monitor casino visitation by requiring local residents to present their government-issued My Number identity cards to gain access to the casino floor.
The government also wants to cap the maximum area of any integrated resort’s gaming floor at 15k-square-meters or a maximum 3% of the resort’s total footprint. This restriction mimics the maximum area allotted to Singapore’s two integrated resorts, which Japan’s legislators have long cited as a model for their own plans.
The proposals have been met by pushback from some LDP legislators, who view the visitation limits as too strict and the physical footprint too small to accommodate some of the grandiose plans put forward by would-be casino licensees. These opponents also suggest that the My Number plan won’t work, given that only around 10% of the population has so far been issued the cards (although the first casinos won’t likely appear for another five years or more).
A report prepared for the government last year recommended a raft of other restrictions, including a Singapore-style entry levy for local residents, barring ATMs on the casino floor and a prohibition on purchasing gaming chips with credit cards.
The government previously voted to amend Japan’s constitution to permit casino gambling, and must now approve a so-called Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill that would codify how casinos are to be licensed, regulated and taxed. But for now, the government is focused on passing legislation to deal with the potential social harms of casino gambling.
The LDP reportedly plan to submit a final version of the gambling addiction bill to the Diet by the end of March. The Diet’s ordinary legislative session ends on June 20, which should leave plenty of time for any necessary amendments to win over reluctant legislators, although Japan has found ways to screw this up before.