Japan casino backer warns against locals ban

    A key professor who helped lawmakers draft a casino bill in Japan said that the government should not consider banning locals, but needs to consider other methods, such as counseling, to tackle the issue of problem gambling, according to media reports.Asked whether gambling should be limited to foreigners, Toru Mihara, a professor at the Osaka University of Commerce said: “It would be entirely out of the question.”

    “I would estimate that about 80 percent of all visitors will be Japanese. The remainder will be foreigners,” he said.Japan’s parliament is expected to convene for its fall session at the end of September and meet through December. Mihara said he expected the bill to be passed in November and that it would still be possible to have at least one integrated resort up and running by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympics in 2020.

    The bill has the backing of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sees it as a key means to reach the country’s targets to boost tourism. However, it has run into opposition from lawmakers concerned about problem gambling in the country.A recent report suggested that about 5 million Japanese, or 5 percent of the population, may have a gambling problem. According to the research, 4.38 million men, accounting for 8.7 percent, and 980,000 women, or 1.8 percent, are suspected to be addicted.