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Could Japan become the next big casino destination in South East Asia?

By LLM Reporters  |  October 31, 2020
Image Credit: Patryk Kosmider/

When it comes to the world’s finest and most luxurious casino hubs in the world, no doubt the first place that springs to mind is Las Vegas – but in recent years, Asia has been giving the American high-rolling hot spot a run for its money, with Macau emerging as one of the top destinations for high-stakes gamblers and gamers and bringing in double the amount of revenue, too.

There’s no doubt that Asia is now a top pick for those looking for that next roulette, baccarat or poker-fuelled adrenaline fix, but one country that is emerging as a surprising new contender in the casino-tourism stakes is Japan.

The nation’s new IR bill has made finally made domestic gambling legal after a long history of land-based casinos not being permitted at all – although for some while, thanks to a loophole in the law, online casinos – as long as their servers weren’t based in Japan – have managed to silently slip through the net, winning a legion of Japanese fans who will be only too thrilled with the latest developments, and the prospect of a night at a real-life roulette table. 6Takarakuji’s guide to the best online casinos available in the country has become a popular resource for high-rollers in the country, allowing them to get in some good old practice just in time for the arrival of the real thing.

Tokyo is one of the cities looking to take advantage of the changes to the country’s gambling laws

A welcome boost

As Japan’s plans to build land-based casinos across the country begin to gather momentum, many are excited about the opportunities it will bring – not just the chance to win millions, but employment, entertainment, enhanced tourism and economic development. Cities where casinos are built are likely to benefit from the arrival of thousands of job opportunities as a result; while the gambling establishments themselves will require everyone from croupiers and hosts to bar staff, other businesses nearby are bound to benefit, too. And if Japan follows in the footsteps of Macau and Sin City, then it could also mean the development of some major luxury casino resort, featuring multiple hotels, restaurants, spas and entertainment venues.

With new jobs, of course, comes a boost to the local economy – and this is where the likely huge increase in tax revenues will also benefit the population. Casinos are known to generate massive amounts of money and pay billions in tax revenues each year as a result, offering up a great opportunity for up-and-coming gambling destinations like Japan – and with more big-spending tourists expected to flock to the country to experience its new and lavish casino scene, the entire country is set to benefit.

This, in fact, is one of the major reasons the IR bill – which has legalised integrated resorts – was passed. Now, the relationship with key stakeholders is advancing, with a view to creating a coalition of Japanese business partners who will come together to bring the nation’s first uniquely Japanese, world-class resort to life.

The changes are set to catalyse Japan’s touristic potential and put them firmly on the map as a luxury casino hotspot, and with the nation’s advanced technology offerings, excellent customer service and all-round cultural charm, there’s no denying that it’s a winning combination. But not everyone is happy about the proposed developments – or the decision to legalise gambling.

Macau’s gambling scene is at least four times the size of Las Vegas. Image credit: LeeYiuTung/

A Covid calamity?

Many feel that, as the global Covid-19 pandemic continues, the timing is poor – and with many of the world’s biggest operators now finding themselves in an unexpectedly precarious condition thanks to months of closures and lockdowns, some have speculated that the timing couldn’t be worse.

As a result, Japan has now pushed back its deadline for cities to submit bids to host casinos until July 2021. So far, the likes of Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama – Japan’s three largest cities – have expressed interest, as well as smaller ones, including Nagasaki and Wakayama.

Despite the government seeing the integrated mega-resorts – which are set to combine everything from hotels to shopping outlets and theatres – as a significant means of bolstering tourism, the nation’s first land-based casinos could now be further away than originally planned. In May, Las Vegas Sands Corp. ended its plans for a resort in Japan – and when some do eventually open, it’s not unlikely that various Covid-combatting social distancing rules will remain in place – even years into the future.

It’s not the first time the government’s plans have been hampered, either, with public wariness over a potential increase in gambling addiction – as well as a bribery scandal – both stirring the pot. But as Japan deals with an ever-shrinking population, the stimulation of tourism is now more important than ever.

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