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Japan Casino Bill to include proposal for an entry levy, plus ID verification

Monday, 08 August 2011 14:43
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Japan’s proposed casino or casinos may charge an entry levy, a cross-party meeting of Japanese lawmakers has been told. Entry will also be linked to an identity verification process, as in Singapore, according to Tokyo-based consultancy Gaming Capital Management (GCM), which had an observer at the cross-party meeting.

In Singapore the entry levy for the city-state’s two casinos is priced at a level (S$100 per 24 hours or S$2,000 per year) designed to discourage poor people from gambling. Depending on the price point of any levy in proposed Japanese casinos the entry fee there may have the same effect. But lawmakers have been told the main purposes of the levy are to pay for measures to prevent problem gambling and to pay toward regional economic development. In addition, the Japanese government’s tax take from proposed casino gambling is likely to contribute to the rebuilding work of the earthquake-ravaged Tohoku region of the country. That will apply for the first few years of casino operations, heard the meeting of parliamentarians, civil servants and business leaders in Tokyo.

The grouping is known officially as the General Assembly of International Sightseeing Industry Development Diet Member Association but is referred to informally as the ‘IR and Casino Diet Member Association’.

Around 100 people—including 30 people from government ministries with involvement in the issue, 20 MPs and 50 people from leisure-related industries—attended the meeting. It was the second gathering of lawmakers and civil servants on the topic since the natural disaster that hit Japan on 11th March.

GCM says the purpose of the session was to explain the outlines of an enabling law to allow casino gambling in Japan. The legislation—to be known as the Casino Bill— has been developed by the House Legislation Bureau of the Japanese Diet (parliament). Last week’s meeting was to allow Association members from all parties to comment on the content and progress of the Bill.

The Association’s chairman Issei Koga, of the Democratic Party of Japan, mentioned in his opening remarks that other countries—including neighbouring South Korea—were looking at ambitious expansion plans for their existing casino industries.

Association vice chairman Takeshi Iwaya of the Liberal Democratic Party stated that a new provision of the Bill was that casino legalisation should help support the clean-up and economic recovery of the Tohoku region. Mr Iwaya suggested it would be possible to propose the Bill at the next extraordinary session of the Diet, to be held in the autumn.

Toru Mihara, Professor at Osaka University of Commerce Institute for Amusement Industry Studies, explained the outline of the Casino Bill. He said the main points are as follows:

It’s based on a provisional draft from last year done in the name of the chairman Mr Koga

There are actually two pieces of legislation. One is the legislation to nominate the IR region to promote international tourism and regional development. Another is to approve the operation of a casino industry.

Three regions will be nominated as potential sites for integrated casino resorts

The nomination process is being supervised by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation and it will be supported by a newly established committee.

Approval for casino operations would be administered by the Cabinet Office. There would also be a supporting regulatory body for the casino approval process and the daily management of the proposed casino industry. The regulatory body would have legislative and policing powers to monitor the industry and prevent it being infiltrated by criminal activity such money laundering and organised crime. It would also deal with the issue of problem gambling.

For the first few years of casino operations the government’s tax revenue from the industry would contribute to the earthquake recovery plan.

The costs of industry regulation will be borne by the casino operators.

Casino entry will be controlled via a system of identity checks. Policy on how to prevent fraudulent entry or the entry of criminals using aliases is still to be developed.

A regulatory framework for operator licensing and equipment manufacturer licensing will be set up.

Distribution of casino revenue—including tax rates—is still to be decided.

There is an idea to charge an entry fee to support gambling dependence prevention; and for regional development measures.

The necessary amendments to the Criminal Code required for any legalization of casino gambling will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Law.

Chairman Koga concluded the session by urging all Association members to build consensus for the casino policy within their respective parliamentary parties.

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