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Turning Japanese

In late December, the Act Concerning Promotion of Development of Integrated Resort Areas (the IR Act) was passed into law by the Japanese National Diet (parliament). With passage of the IR Act, Japan has introduced the legalization of limited casino gaming in the form of integrated resorts (IRs), and abandoned its long-held comprehensive ban on casinos.

Past, Present and Future of the IR Act and IRs in Japan

An alliance of 74 Japanese lawmakers formed in April 2010 in an effort to introduce integrated resorts in Japan. This alliance drafted the original version of the IR bill in 2011. An updated version of the bill was first submitted to Japan’s National Diet in December 2013, but failed to pass due to insufficient political support.

Political support grew over the past three years, and the alliance of pro-gaming lawmakers eventually expanded to more than 200 politicians. Ultimately, the IR bill received strong cross-party support from all major political parties in Japan, and only minor changes to the bill were needed to obtain sufficient votes for passage. Such changes mainly included incorporation of additional protections to prevent problem gambling, the chief issue that generated some political opposition.

Where Gaming Currently Stands in Japan

The IR Act does not legalize wholesale casino gaming in Japan, but instead provides for the creation of a limited number of integrated resorts. Japanese IRs will integrate casinos with facilities such as international conference and exhibition centers, hotels, shopping centers, restaurants, theaters, amusement parks, sports complexes and other similar attractions.

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