There are lots of gambling hotspots around the world from Las Vegas to Macau, and now the country of Japan is entering the fray. Although the public sentiment isn’t overly for it, the government is in the process of lifting the casino ban and will be welcoming legalized gaming to the country within the next few years.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led the push as part of the build-up to the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which will take place in 2020. Japan took a huge step in getting to that goal as they recently passed a bill that lifted a ban on casino and resort facilities, as they believe this will help with tourism and then bring in an estimated $40 billion a year from 2025 onward. Right now, if a Japanese gambler wants to play their games, they would have to go to Macau or some other gambling hub outside of the country, but Prime Minister Abe sees the massive economic potential for his country to keep those revenues.
While he sees the benefits, there are plenty of opponents on the other side. Unlike the United States, where you’d find a lot of people who are in favor of legalized betting, the general sentiment in Japan isn’t the same. 44% of polled respondents to a survey said they were opposed to lifting this ban with only 12% favoring it.
But the ban has been lifted and legalized gambling is on its way to Japan. It is only a matter of time before the giants of the gambling industry come knocking, looking to build their casinos and resorts in Japan. The next steps will be to sort out the regulations for the industry and then determine how many licenses they would like to allow. The likes of Wynn Resorts, the Sands and MGM Resorts International are already lining up.
With wrinkles still to be ironed out, the building of casinos and resorts won’t start for some time. Also, it isn’t like Japan is just going to walk in and dominate the gambling industry in that part of the world. They are expecting to service a lot of people locally but there will still be competition in the Asian market. There is Macau (which is currently dealing with their own restrictions on gambling in a number of different ways), Singapore will be in the mix, along with South Korea and the Philippines as these governments look for new ways to stimulate their economies. Not only will these facilities boost tourism, but employment should also see a boost as someone has to build these facilities, and then someone will have to run them.
Macau has been the top spot in the area but regulations slowed traffic in 2014 and 2015. However, they are starting to come back up. It was a tough two years for Macau, but they’ve recently been on the ascent for four straight months, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Japan tried to push these policies through as quickly as they can. Macau saw a year-over-year growth in November, which made it four straight months that that’s happened.