Japan: The world’s favorite country for betting?

Gambling bill will be introduced
“Gambling is finally legal!” At the end of 2016, many Japanese “gamers” sighed.

On December 15, 2016, the last day of the regular meeting of the Japanese National Assembly, after the “discussion” that lasted into the night the previous day, the House of Representatives finally passed the “Integrated Resort Facilities Improvement Promotion Act” called “Gambling Act”. After years of delay, Japan finally opened the door to the gambling industry.

“Pandora’s box”
On the streets of Japan, some small shops with laser beams outside can always attract the footsteps of passers-by. Even though the shop is filled with smoke and noises, it is still full of players, immersed and fascinated.

This is a well-known small steel ball shop. Pachinko is a kind of pinball game. It depends on luck. The small steel balls won can be exchanged for goods or even resold, indirectly exchanged for cash.

“I started playing small steel balls when I was 50 years old.” A 62-year-old man told the media that he had lost his wages in one day, and in order to make money back, he returned here again and again.

Although Japan does not yet have an official casino, the country allows bets on horse racing, bicycle and boat races, and small ball shops suspected of breaking the law are generally tolerated by law enforcers.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe previously stated in his parliamentary defense that opening up the gaming industry will greatly benefit the economy, help attract investment, create jobs, and also help Japan achieve its goal of attracting 20 million tourists in the 2020 Olympics.

This time, the door to gambling was officially opened. Some people believed that it was taking advantage of the trend, while others believed that it opened the “Pandora’s box”, and the accumulated abuses were suddenly placed in front of everyone.

The world’s number one gambling country?
“Gambling is hell, don’t the members of Congress know this horror?” The 62-year-old man “turned around” again and again, ruining his life. He owed a debt, had embezzled public funds, and ended up being scattered. He even thought about robbing banks and robbing old people. He also thought about robbing banks on the edge of a cliff.

However, supporters believe that one should not “crash food because of choking.”

“If Japan did not become the second largest market in Asia overnight, I would be very surprised.” Investment Bank United Gaming Group analyst Grant Gopherson said.

In September 2016, since the panel members supporting the case began to lobby, international gaming companies have begun to prepare to “betting.” Both MGM International Hotel Group and Las Vegas Sands Group said that it is possible to invest US$10 billion in the gaming industry in Japan.

“The income of gambling comes from the gambling capital of the losers. It is not like the service industry and the manufacturing industry that will generate new added value. What kind of growth industry is this?” The head of the Japanese Democratic Progressive Party, Lianfang, held a discussion on December 7, 2016 Asked sharply at the meeting.

In response, Abe said that the bill was not submitted by the government, “I have no obligation to explain.”

In fact, in 2013, the gambling bill was submitted to Congress by a coalition of multi-party parliamentarians dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party. The former top adviser of the coalition was Abe. In 2014, Abe urged the case to go into consideration, but it was abandoned due to the dissolution of the House of Representatives at that time.

Obviously, Abe is a staunch supporter of casino legalization. When inspecting Singapore’s casinos, he said that he would regard the gaming industry as a “bright spot” of the economic growth strategy, and at this time he hoped to stimulate the Japanese economy that “Abenomics” failed to bring about.

Despite the widespread opposition, the Liberal Democratic Party still relied on the “popularity and power” in the two houses to forcibly pass this bill, and Abe finally had a chance to “gamble”.

Incurable disease
For the people, “gamble” is not only a temptation, but also a chronic illness.

According to a 2014 survey by the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Japan, 5.36 million people in the country have gambling dependence, accounting for 4.8% of the total population, compared to 1.4% in the United States, the “largest country” in the gaming industry. According to the Nikkei, these gamblers spend an average of 12.93 million yen per year on gambling, which is equivalent to spending more than 30,000 yen a day.

Opponents believe that once the casino ban is lifted, gambling dependence will become more serious and crimes will increase.

“Gambling dependence is an incurable disease.” A man in his 40s who became obsessed with the small steel ball said that although he joined an addiction group, “if he has 100,000 yen in his hand, I am afraid he will go.”

However, analysts said that casinos will only be developed in pilot cities-combining casinos with hotels and shopping malls called integrated resorts, and it may even prohibit gambling by Chinese people.

In this regard, some cities have expressed resistance. Both Otaru, Hokkaido and Okinawa prefectures stated that they would not be introduced even if the bill passed.

Senator Mikami said that during the Meiji Restoration, Emperor Meiji first took steps to eliminate gambling in order to build a new Japan and develop the economy. However, the Liberal Democratic Party is now launching a gambling economy, “even Emperor Meiji will be angry.”