Pachinko problems raised on first day of Japan casino debate

    Japanese lawmakers were asked what steps would be taken to avoid exacerbating social problems on the first day of a debate on legalizing casinos in the country, with opponents pointing out little had been done to tackle problem gambling related to pachinko parlours.
    Pachinko is played by one in six Japanese and generates $200 billion in gross wagers each year.
    “We strongly believe that not enough has been done in terms of studying and addressing gambling addiction,” Takeshi Iwaya, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was cited by media as saying. He added some of the revenue generated from casinos would be put aside to help address problem gambling.
    Lawmakers in favor of the bill spoke of how it was essential to drive the government’s aim to double tourism numbers to 20 million”The intention is to increase competitiveness and enhance the attractiveness of our tourist destinations,” Hiroyuki Hosoda, a ruling party lawmaker sponsoring the bill, told a legislative committee.
    Passage of the bill would pave the way to open what may potentially be one of the world’s biggest casino markets. CLSA has said Japan ultimately has the potential to be a $40 billion market, sparking keen interest from nearly all of the world’s biggest operators.
    “Our ‘visit Japan’ and Abenomics policies need this policy,” said Masaaki Taira, another ruling party lawmaker.
    The bill is not expected to be passed during the current session of parliament. Supporters are hopeful it will be pushed through in an extraordinary session later this year.