Komeito Party Calls for $76 Entry Fee for Japanese Casinos
The Komeito Party, a key ally of Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is calling for a $76 admission fee on Japanese residents to enter casinos. The Jiji Press is calling for a mandatory fee with the goal of eliminating players who could not afford to gamble.
In February, Shinzo Abe’s government proposed a ¥2,000 fee on Japanese gamblers, a figure which would come to about $18.84 in US dollars at the moment. Other policy proposals different significantly, too.
The LDP called for 6 casino licenses to be approved. Such a large number would allow for most of the US and Chinese casino companies bidding to receive a license. It also would assure that Japanese cities like Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokohama would receive licenses, while a few of the outlying areas or islands might receive licensing.
Limitation of Casino Licenses
The Komeito Party instead prefers 2 to 3 casino licenses. This might restrict gaming to outlying areas or force government regulators to shift casino development to one particular location in Japan, such as the proposed Osaka Strip.
If the Komeito Party got its way, the casino entry fee would restrict casino gambling to Japanese high rollers, to whom a $76 fee would be akin to a nominal parking fee. The Komeito Party’s proposal is taken from Singapore’s casino gaming laws, which have similar policies to restrict Singaporean gambling.
Such a fee could cost Japan billions of dollars in casino revenues, if the American gaming executives who plan to bid on casino licenses can be believed. Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands Corp. once said he would invest $10 billion in an integrated casino-resort in Japan, but said restrictions in Japanese residents’ gambling might set the ceiling on investment at $5 billion.
Buddhist Political Party
The Japanese Komeito Party skews towards Japan’s Buddhist population. The party is part of the LDP’s ruling coalition, but Komeito often pushes socially conservative policies in the Japanese Diet. In that way, Komeito Party is roughly equivalent to the social conservatives or evangelical Christians in the United States.
The Komeito Party believes casino gambling could have a disruptive effect on Japanese society. In the party’s opinion, legal and unfettered casino betting would exacerbate problem gambling in Japan, which is significant due to pachinko parlors. Komeito Party believes legal gambling would lead to spiraling debt for gamblers, desparate measures and lies for heads of certain households, and the introduction of a destabilizing element into society.
¥8,000 Casino Entry Fee
To limit those effects, the party wants to impose a ¥8,000 on all Japanese residents. ¥8,000 equates to about $76 in US dollars, though that amount would fluctuate over time. Japanese penny players would be frozen out of casino gambling, because they would not want to invest ¥8,000 in a casino session — in addition to whatever house edge they might face.
Mid-stakes players would hesitate to pay the ¥8,000 fee or restrict their casino visits significantly. Only VIP high rollers would pay the ¥8,000 fee without qualms. The idea of such a policy is to assure that Japanese gamblers have the financial wherewithal to gamble comfortably.
Limit Number of Visits
Other differences exist between the LDP and Komeito parties. For instance, Komeito Party wants to restrict Japanese residents to no more than 3 casino visits in a week and no more than 10 visits in a month to a casino. Such a policy would limit the worst excesses of a gambling addict, according to the Buddhist political party’s calculations.
The Komeito Party called for more study and research to be conducted on Japanese public opinion, including the use of polling. The party released a statement which said, “It’s extremely important to gain understanding from a wide range of Japanese people by introducing casino restrictions in the world’s best standards.”
June 20 Deadline
The Liberal Democratic Party continues to push for a quick vote on the IR Implementation Bill, with legislative proposals expected by April 2018 and a final vote taken by the end of the legislative session on June 20. Most believe a bill involving problem gambling mitigation must pass before the IR Implementation Bill is passed.
Experts expect the number of casino licenses to be the biggest point of conflict between the Liberal Democrats and the Komeito Party’s leaders. The best way to limit Japanese residents’ gambling activities is to limit the number of access points for such betting.