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JAPAN - Companies gearing up for start of casino gambling

Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — Corporate activities are increasing ahead of the opening of casinos in Japan, involving game machine makers, overseas casino operators and other concerns.

A bill to permit the establishment of “integrated resorts,” which comprise casinos, hotels, conference halls and other facilities, passed the House of Representatives in June and was sent to the House of Councillors.

The ruling coalition hopes legislation for implementing integrated resorts will be enacted during the extended session of the Diet due to end on July 22.

The government is planning to establish integrated resorts in up to three locations across the country. It will charge a ¥6,000 entry fee for residents of Japan, with foreign visitors allowed into the resorts free of charge.

Major overseas integrated resort operators, such as those in the United States and Macau, have already announced their intention of opening casino facilities in Japan.

Among Japanese companies, Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. is expanding preparations, including the opening of an integrated resort called Paradise City in Incheon, South Korea, in a joint venture with a local company in April 2017. It has sent about 50 employees to the new facility to gain management know-how.

The leading pachinko slot machine maker also started a joint project with Kyoto University in late 2017 to study gambling addiction. The project will end in March 2021.

Sega Sammy hopes to win the trust of the government as an integrated resort operator in order to gain authorization to open a casino.

The enactment of the integrated resort legislation is expected to fuel competition for supplying slot and other gambling machines to casinos. Konami Holdings Corp., which has supplied a total of 10,000 slot machines to casinos in the United States and captured a share of about 10 percent in the U.S. market, “targets a greater share in Japan,” said Senior Managing Director Satoshi Sakamoto.

Sega Sammy and Bandai Namco Holdings Inc. began producing casino machines in 2013 and 2016, respectively, entering a market that has numerous overseas rivals. Many Japanese manufacturers of pachinko machines also produce casino machines because the pachinko game market is declining, reflecting the aging of players and toughened regulation.

 

Given that the casino industry in Macau employs more than 50,000 workers, the legalization of integrated resorts in Japan is expected to create many jobs.

Japan Casino School was founded in Tokyo in 2004 as Japan’s first school to train croupiers. It opened its second school in Osaka, a leading candidate location for an integrated resort, in April.

Reflecting the 2016 enactment of the integrated resort promotion law, designed to facilitate preparations for the establishment of integrated resorts, the number of enrollees in the school in fiscal 2017 surged to 2,014, double the previous year’s figure.

Japan Casino Academy, another training establishment for casino croupiers, has opened a total of six schools in cities such as Tokyo and Nagoya since 2015. It plans to open three more schools, including one in Sapporo by the end of this year to meet “an ever increasing number of students,” a public relations official said.

Companies concerned foresee huge business opportunities in integrated resorts in Japan as pachinko parlors make up a market of more than ¥20 trillion annually, larger than the casino business in Las Vegas.

But the establishment of casinos will expose Japan to competition with Macau, Singapore and other overseas markets. Operators have quit the global casino industry one after another because of excessive competition.

Casinos in Japan “will be unable to earn profits sustainably if they fail to offer attractive Japanese-style services,” an industry official said.Speech