Japan takes leaf out of Singapore's rule book for casinos

The balance Singapore found between strong legislation and responsible gambling helped in the crafting of Japan's gaming law, said Mr Makoto Nakagawa, director general of the Preparation Office of Japan Casino Regulatory Commission.
The balance Singapore found between strong legislation and responsible gambling helped in the crafting of Japan's gaming law, said Mr Makoto Nakagawa, director general of the Preparation Office of Japan Casino Regulatory Commission.PHOTO: CASINO REGULATORY AUTHORITY

Singapore's experience in establishing its integrated resorts (IRs) has helped Japan in planning for its upcoming casinos.

Specifically, the balance Singapore found between strong legislation and responsible gambling helped Japan craft its gaming law, which was passed last year, said Mr Makoto Nakagawa, director-general of the Preparation Office of Japan Casino Regulatory Commission.

The plan is for the IRs to open in the middle of the next decade, and they will include casinos, entertainment venues, restaurants, hotels and conference halls.

Speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of the Fifth Singapore Symposium on Gambling Regulation and Crime yesterday, Mr Nakagawa, who is leading the Japanese government's IR efforts, said: "The goals of the IRs in Japan are not so different from Singapore's. We are looking to boost the future of Japan like the IRs did for Singapore."

He said Japan studied measures implemented by casino regulators in various jurisdictions, including Singapore, Australia and Macau. "Japan is a latecomer to the gaming market... so we have paid a lot of attention to ensure we can keep up with the competitiveness of international gaming investors," he said.

Japan has adopted similar measures to Singapore's casino regulation, including a 6,000 yen (S$78) entry fee for residents and limits on the number of visits citizens can make to a gaming venue. But before the IRs can open, Japan has to first establish its casino regulatory body which will be done by January next year, said Mr Nakagawa.

Japan plans to give out three gaming licences and this has garnered the interest of casino operators worldwide, including operators of Singapore's two IRs, Las Vegas Sands Corp and Genting Singapore, which run Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa respectively.

 
 

Mr Nakagawa said there is no plan yet on where the IRs will be located and no confirmation on who will be running the casinos.

However, he expects proposals for the licences from local governments at the prefecture and city levels to be submitted by the early 2020s, after which the government in Tokyo will decide on the locations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2019, with the headline 'Japan takes leaf out of Singapore's rule book for casinos'. Print Edition | Subscribe