The Japanese government is on the brink of passing the IR Implementation Act, though the bill remains deeply unpopular with the majority of the population and sooner or later this will have practical consequences for the industry.

The passage of the act represents the culmination of almost two decades of lobbying efforts by the advocates of legalised casino gambling. However, the reality is that casinos have become legal in Japan due mainly to the authoritarian and non-democratic strains in the Japanese political system.

The pro-casino movement in Japan was effectively launched in 1999 by former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, an outspoken nationalist hawk.

Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, it is this far right trend which has been dominating the nation’s political sphere and there would have been very little prospect for this legislation succeeding had not Japanese moderates and the liberal left been in a long-term political eclipse after the perceived debacle of the 2009-2012 Democratic Party of Japan administrations.

The first and most important challenge for the IR industry going forward will be to find a way to stop relying on the right-wing politicians who originally brought them into the country and to gain a greater degree of acceptance from moderates and liberals as well.

Source: Asia Gaming Brief