Japan unveils anti-gambling plan before casino openings

A pachinko parlour in Tokyo's Shinjuku district on March 22. Under the basic plan covering three years from this year, operators of slot machines, pachinko parlours and government-operated gambling venues, including horse-racing and keirin-racing tra
A pachinko parlour in Tokyo's Shinjuku district on March 22. Under the basic plan covering three years from this year, operators of slot machines, pachinko parlours and government-operated gambling venues, including horse-racing and keirin-racing tracks, have been asked to remove cash machines from their facilities.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Measures include removing cash machines from gambling outlets, limiting access to casinos

TOKYO • Japan has approved a scheme limiting people's access to casinos and other betting establishments as well as removing cash machines from these locations as part of a plan to stem problems related to gambling.

The moves come ahead of the opening of several casinos in the country.

Based on the plan, prefectures in the country will also come up with their own steps to counter any gambling-related problems, with the authorities required to take action under a law against addiction, which was enacted last October.

"We will create a healthy society by thoroughly implementing measures based on the basic plan in order to prevent people from finding themselves in difficult situations," Kyodo news agency quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during a government meeting last Friday.

Japan Today reported that under the basic plan covering three years from this year, operators of slot machines, pachinko parlours and government-operated gambling venues, including horse racing and keirin racing tracks, have been asked to remove cash machines from their facilities.

Pachinko parlour operators are urged not to allow customers to enter their premises if requested by family members.

The authorities also urged horse racetrack operators to utilise facial recognition systems to restrict the entry of gambling addicts.

However, Japan Today reported that these measures are "mere requests from the government" that do not carry penalties.

Other measures in place include a proposal on putting up warnings about gambling addiction on newspapers, magazines, and in TV commercials.

It also urges the country's 47 prefectures and 20 major cities to set up treatment facilities for gambling addicts by 2020.

PREVENTING DIFFICULT SITUATIONS

We will create a healthy society by thoroughly implementing measures based on the basic plan in order to prevent people from finding themselves in difficult situations.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY YOSHIHIDE SUGA

Japan enacted a controversial law last July to allow casinos that the government says will boost tourism and growth but was bitterly opposed by the opposition who were concerned with the country's well-documented problem with gambling addiction.

Japan's government has long touted the drive for mega "integrated resorts" (IRs) that will include casinos, entertainment venues, restaurants, hotel and conference halls, on the Las Vegas model.

Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore, which run Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore respectively, are among at least eight suitors for the three IRs that Japan has allowed.

Japan has not yet decided where to build the IRs, which will likely open their doors only in the mid-2020s.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2019, with the headline 'Japan unveils anti-gambling plan before casino openings'. Print Edition | Subscribe