Though we may still be more than a year or more away from any casino even having the legal standing to open its doors, casino operators from around the world are already making moves in Japan. If you can recall, we recently did a story outlining what was a huge legal move in Japan. To make a long story short, lawmakers in the very conservative island nation recently opened the doors to allowing the licensure and operation of the country’s first casinos.
Now, we are seeing the beginning steps of certain companies solidifying their footprint in an industry that does not even exist yet.
Though a law was passed that opened the doors for casinos to exist, that piece of legislation does nothing in the way of helping casinos open their doors. Rather, the legislation made it legal for casinos to exist so long as a full regulatory system is penned. This regulatory system must include provisions with regard to how communities, and the nation as a whole, will deal with problem gamblers and gambling addiction. Without that crucial piece, it is not likely that any gambling licenses will be approved by Japan’s parliament.
According to Reuters, Hard Rock Café International as well as MGM Grand have been sending representatives to Tokyo and elsewhere in order to persuade lawmakers to lean a certain way. As it stands, the belief is that the best route to receiving licenses is for these massive casino operators to target local communities. If a casino operator can convince a city or municipality that a casino resort would be profitable, the hope is that representatives from that city or municipality will turn around and lobby parliamentary representatives to vote a certain way and to draft the legal framework for casinos in the most beneficial manner.
Though it is still extremely early, political insiders believe that, if all goes as planned, Japan will move to initially open only 2 or 3 casinos at first. With that being said, these will not be run of the mill casinos. The plan is that they will be large-scale resort casinos with all sorts of amenities. Naturally, at least one of these three potential resort casinos is going to be somewhere near Tokyo.
As was mentioned previously, the idea behind legalizing casino-style gambling is not that there is going to be a huge amount of money generated from Japanese citizens gambling. The Japanese are not known to be huge gamblers, and that has not changed at all recently. Instead, these casinos will be looking to capitalize off of a tourism industry that is amongst the biggest and best in Asia.
Though there is still a long way to go, Japan seems to be on the right track to open up the next big casino market. Right now there isn’t much substance to the perceived progress, but from the tone of the statements coming from the country and those with knowledge of the situation, things are looking positive; and that is a great sign. This is especially true when you consider the fact that, outside Macau, there aren’t really many big gambling destinations across Asia.