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Opinion JAPAN GAMING MARKET


Regulation: as long and winding road


Hitoshi Ishihara, Partner at Anderson Mori & Tomotsune Tokyo, discusses the five key IR regulatory points that need to be considered


session which is taking place at the time of this writing


Below are some of the bits and pieces which may be interesting for the operators considering entry into the Japanese market:


THE SELECTION PROCESS


Hitoshi Ishihara, Partner at Anderson Mori & Tomotsune Tokyo www.amt-law.com


On 15 December 2016, the Act Promoting Implementation of Specified Integrated Resort Areas (the Act) was enacted in the Japanese Diet session with an aim to legalise gambling to be operated by private entities in Japan, which is the latest development in a long-standing debate on whether to legalise and permit casinos in designated areas of the country. Te Act aims to “Promote” the establishment of an IR (and casino) in Japan. Terefore, it only has 23 articles laying out the very basic concepts.


Among the small number of articles, one specifically says that the measures to implement the IR should take place within one year, and the government intended to submit the subsequent implementation bills to the Diet session in 2017 and the government established a body called IR Promotion Advisory Council, tasking them to formulate the basic concepts for the implementation of the IR. In response to this, in the summer of 2017, the Advisory Council issued a Whitepaper setting out various matters (the “Whitepaper”).


However the implementation bills were not passed during the 2017 Diet sessions due to the re-election which took place which limited the opportunity to discuss these bills. Te Japanese government now intends on legislating these implementation bills during the 2018 Diet


P122 NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE /MARKET DATA


● Te Casino Promotion Law currently contemplates a two-step selection process in order to introduce a casino in Japan. Tat is, while IRs should basically be established and operated by private entities which are selected by the local government, the national government evaluates the proposals and applications of local governments who raises their hands and say “We want to have an IR”.


Te local governments chosen by the national government will, in principle, develop IRs at its own expense/risk and select private entities that operate IRs through a competitive and fair public offering procedure.


Agreements related to the local governments and private entities require the certification of the national regulatory body.


In this context, there has been discussions about which selection process will predate which, meaning “Will the national government select the local government based on location first and then the local government select the operator, or would the local government select the operator, draw-up a plan first and then the national government select the local government?”


Tere was a controversial debate on this point for quite some time now, but the Whitepaper addressed this issue, at least for the time being. Tat is that the selection of the operator by the local government will precede the selection by the national government in order to allow the national government actually review the plans.


In this context the Whitepaper also expressly


states that there should be “1 casino for 1 IR”, so the current thinking is not having multiple casinos competing against each other in a single location, but rather have such competition during the selection process.


THE PROPOSED CEILING FOR THE FLOOR SIZE OF THE CASINO


● The Whitepaper is silent on the exact ratio or figure, but states that there should be a ceiling to


the floor size of the casino within the IR and that this should be determined by taking into consideration of the Singapore casino. Te discussion within the government seems to be leaning toward capping it to three per cent of the total space of the IR and 15,000 square meters.


Obviously, setting a ceiling to the size of the casino, which needless to say is the primarily revenue source of the IR, means the size of the IR itself may be affected. And this would affect the local governments, especially those which have contemplated a large size casino and IR with a large size investment from the private operators.


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