Osaka Governor criticizes restrictive casino policies

Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui, a regional politician known to be in favor of establishing IRs, has openly criticized the proposals regarding entry to casinos, now being considered by the central government, as being too restrictive.

At his June 21 press conference, Governor Matsui answered reporters’ questions an IR in Osaka Prefecture for about 15 minutes.

He directly targeted the proposal that would require all Japan residents entering casinos to present their MyNumber identification card: “MyNumber cards are not yet in common use. If everyone possessed these cards, I’d say it’s fine. Isn’t it strange to require something for entry that is not yet common?”

As of May of this year, only 9 percent of Japan residents have acquired a MyNumber card, and the new system is deeply unpopular.

Matsui also outlined his own views of gambling addiction, which to him is limited to people who lose the ability to maintain themselves in society. He pointed out that there is already a lot of gambling addiction in Japan, but there is also a “double standard” among the ministries regarding the classification of pachinko as a form of gambling. He believes that the increased political focus on addiction will improve the social situation beyond current levels.

Governor Matsui explained to the media that, as a practical matter, he aims to have the Yumeshima IR open its doors in 2023 or 2024, but he noted that he does not support a potential rival bid by Izumisano city, a local government within the prefecture which has also expressed interested in hosting an IR.

The same morning, before the press conference, Governor Matsui received a visit from Las Vegas Sands president Robert G. Goldstein. According to Matsui, Goldstein expressed his company’s strong interest in the Yumeshima site.

Morningstar analyst Chelsey Tam wrote earlier this month that Las Vegas Sands is the “best positioned” to win the Osaka IR bid, though this view has been challenged by other casino operators who have also been meeting with the governor.