On February 1, the Abe government’s Headquarters for Promoting Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas released a number of more detailed proposals for IR regulation. These have been opened to public comments from now until March 4, and then will formally be established by Cabinet resolution at the end of March.
Garnering the most attention from the Japanese media is the requirement that IR hotels must have a minimum of 100,000 square meters for guest rooms. This is more-or-less equivalent to a 2,000 room hotel.
The fact that there would be such a minimum size requirement was first tipped last November, and the IR plans of regional governments such as Wakayama already seem to have taken this anticipated regulation into account.
Minimum sizes for facilities hosting of international exhibitions and conferences are also stipulated, but the rules here are more complex, giving local governments and IR operators three possible standards for fulfilling the minimum size requirements.
Other aspects for the design of non-gaming facilities at the IRs are left up to the local governments and operators, but the document suggests the possibilities of “theaters, entertainment centers, music halls, arenas, movie theaters, museums, art houses, restaurants, and other facilities.”
Tourism promotion remains a key concern. Each IR must have large facilities to showcase local tourist attractions and facilitate visits out to those areas on a one-stop service basis. Operators are specifically guided to integrate high-technology such as VR to promote the local tourist venues.
Other policies announced are that billboard advertisements for IRs will be limited to international airports and port facilities up to the point where the visitors pass immigration. Otherwise, public advertisements will be banned out of a concern for promoting problem gambling.
Moreover, as an anti-money laundering measure, all cash transactions between casinos and customers in excess of JPY1 million (about $9,180) will be required to be reported to the Casino Management Board.
Finally, the long-expected 3 percent floor space limit for the casino is also stipulated, although no details are provided about how exactly the total area of an IR will be measured, which remains the key issue in this regard.