Japan takes a leaf out of Singapore's playbook on casino regulation

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 - The experience Singapore underwent to establish 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 in the crafting of Japan's gaming law that was passed last year, said director general of the Preparation Office of Japan Casino Regulatory Commission, Mr Makoto Nakagawa.

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

The IRs will be very much like those in Singapore and Las Vegas.

Speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of the Fifth Singapore Symposium on Gambling Regulation and Crime on Thursday (Aug 29), Mr Nakagawa, who is leading the Japanese government's efforts on the IRs, 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, and has gone on study tours to learn about legislation and implementation.

"Japan is a latecomer to the gaming market... so we have paid a lot of attention to ensuring that we can keep up with the competitiveness of international gaming investors," he said.

 
 
 
 

Japan has adopted similar measures to those that Singapore introduced for casino regulation, including setting a 6,000 yen (about S$79) entry fee for residents and imposing limits on the number of visits citizens can make to a gaming venue.

But before the IRs can open their doors, 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 as to where the IRs will be located in Japan and hence 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.