Debate over Japan’s casino size limitation

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Experts’ Committee advising the Abe government on its IR Implementation Bill, the issue of strict limitations on the total size of the casino space was a topic of debate.

While Japanese media reports offered the specific figures of an upper limit of 3 percent of the total area of the IR facilities and an absolute limit of 15,000 square meters in the case of the largest possible IRs, sources familiar with the discussions inside the meeting tell AGB that the precise limits have yet to be determined.

These sources report that it was agreed that there would be firm limitations on the maximum allowable area for the casino section of each Japanese IR, and that in principle both an absolute ceiling and a proportional ceiling would be included in the legislation.

However, the proportional ceiling in particular remains a point of contention. There were reportedly many opinions from the Experts’ Committee advising the government side to be careful about setting the maximum allowable percentage dedicated to casino space at too low a figure. The reason for their warning is so as not to impede the licensing bids of the smaller regional governments which may not have the need for extensive surrounding business and entertainment facilities as would, for example, a potential IR in a major urban area such as Osaka or Yokohama.

The next meeting of the Experts’ Committee, which will be the 5th meeting, is expected to be held near the end of this month and will take up topics such as measures to prevent money laundering and gambling addiction.

Other suggestions from the IR Promotion Secretariat, according to a note from Morgan Stanley on Thursday, includes – not allowing Macau-style junkets, locals buying chips only with cash, a limitation of one casino per city, and not allowing the wagering on sports events and online gaming.