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JAPAN

Casino charge hits political wall It was all systems go in Japan at the beginning of 2017, with global operators and cities stepping up their efforts to snare an IR license after a bill legalizing casinos was finally pushed through parliament in the final hours of the last session of the prior year.

H

owever, the path towards what is expected to be one of the most lucrative gambling markets in the world has never been smooth and the process has hit another stumbling block that may cause delays. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, once again seeking an opportunity to shore up his support, called snap elections at the end of September, stalling work on a crucial bill setting out the details of how casinos will be regulated. Although Abe won a resounding victory, political events have once again slowed the progress, although key officials have given

assurances that the IR implementation bill and separate legislation to tackle problem gambling will move forward as soon as possible. The legislative delay doesn’t seem to have dampened the enthusiasm among international operators, who appear to be forging ahead with plans to tap the market, which CLSA estimates could hit annual gross gambling revenue of about $25 billion once fully mature, with a model of two urban IRs and 10 in smaller, regional cities. MGM Resorts International has been among the most aggressive building out its Japan presence, with eight permanent staff

TOURISM ARRIVALS

Fitch more cautious on GGR potential

January

The Japanese gaming industry is expected to produce gross gaming revenues of $6-9 billion, depending on whether two or three integrated resorts are opened initially, according to Fitch Rating’s All in: Global Gaming Handbook. While other analysts and operators have placed Japan’s GGR estimates in the $20 billion range, Fitch says that these predictions fail to take into account “the limited footprint of the initial casinos relative to other jurisdictions that are more liberal in terms of gaming positions (e.g. U.S. and Macau).” “Given the likely physical restrictions, we do not think that estimates based on Japan’s GDP or loosely regulated pachinko industry are practical,” said the ratings agency.

February March April

2,006,775 1,791,122 1,898,944 2,300,476

May

2,020,226

June

2,117,253

July August September

2,426,074 2,477,500* 2,280,100*

*preliminary figures estimated by JNTO (Source: JNTO)

Survey highlights problem gambling levels Around 3.6 percent of the Japanese population have suffered from gambling addiction, according to a government survey released on Friday. The number amounts to around 3.2 million people nationwide, said The Japan Times in a report. The survey also shows that around 700,000 people, or 0.8 percent of the population, were addicted within the past year. Among them, pachinko accounted for the most money spent on gambling. Gambling addiction has become the centre of public debate in Japan over the last year, with many fingers pointed at the forthcoming establishment of IRs.

Asia Gaming Briefings | November 2017

in a new office in the Otemachi district of Tokyo and in its Osaka branch office. The U.S. company also recently launched a Japanese-language web site. It and rival operator Las Vegas Sands have said they may be willing to invest as much as $10 billion if the conditions are right, and as long as locals are permitted to gamble. Sands in its attempts to get ahead brought out the star power, holding events in Tokyo and Osaka, with international footballer David Beckham and Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh to convey the message that an LVS-run IR would be accompanied by top-level international

AGBriefings November 2017  
AGBriefings November 2017  

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