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Japan: Casino law overview

Ippei Nishiuchi

On December 26 2016, the act promoting implementation of specified integrated resort areas – the so-called Japanese 'casino law' – was promulgated and partially came into force. The act mainly aims to set out the fundamental principles and policies concerning the establishment of 'specified integrated resort areas', which are locations certified by the government as areas within which casino facilities can be established. Outside these areas, it will continue to be illegal to operate casinos.

Under the act, casino facilities are only legitimised when they are integrated with other facilities which promote tourism.

In order to operate casino facilities, it is necessary to obtain the relevant government authorisation. The act provides that casino facilities will be established and operated by private entities, thereby limiting the operation of casino facilities to private entities. The act is silent with regard to the requirements that must be satisfied by the operator; therefore, it appears that foreign operators are not excluded.

It indicates that the government will implement measures concerning the prevention of fraudulent activities and the elimination of harmful influences that might arise as a result of the establishment and operation of casino facilities. The government is also required to implement measures relating to admittance to casino facilities. These measures include restrictions on certain people entering casino facilities from the viewpoint of the prevention of adverse effects arising from the use of casino facilities by Japanese citizens.

Under the act, the government has the authority to collect payments from those who establish and operate casino facilities. The government also has the authority to collect entrance fees from users of casino facilities. The authorities described above are subject to other legislation that will be enacted in due course, as set forth below.

The act only describes basic principles and policies and, by around December 2017, the government will be required to take necessary legislative steps to promote the preparation of the specified integrated resort areas. Therefore, interested parties should pay continued attention to the act and accompanying legislation that is expected in the coming year.

Ippei Nishiuchi

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