Japan to launch IR promotion office on Friday

Japan’s government will launch the headquarters of the cabinet office branch that will be responsible for the bill setting out details for its casino legislation this Friday.

Masahiro Terada, Senior Manager, Integrated Resort Team at PwC Japan, said at the ASEAN Gaming Summit in Manila that he is hopeful the Implementation Bill will be put forward in the next Diet period and will be approved within this year.

He said the draft of the bill is about 90 percent complete and is expected to allow two to three IRs in key Japanese cities.

Japan’s government pushed through a bill paving the way for legal casinos in the final hours of the final session of parliament last year, bulldozering opposition lawmakers. However, now the fine details need to be worked out.

A casino license for Japan is seen as the main prize in global gaming, with major operators such as Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts pledging investments of as much as $10 billion to invest in the market. Japan is expected to become the second-biggest market in Asia after Macau in the first year of operation, although actual estimates as to market potential vary widely.

Japan is seeking to boost its tourism base to 40 million a year by 2020 and to 60 million by 2040, with a corresponding jump in spending of about $80 billion by 2020 from $34 billion last year. IRs are seen as a key component to drive that growth. However, much of the attraction for foreign investors lies in the large and wealthy local population. They are expected to be allowed to gamble, although potentially with an entrance fee along the lines of the Singapore model.

Measures are also expected to be implemented to allay concerns over problem gambling.