No plans for online gaming in Japan, according to minister

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No plans for online gaming in Japan, according to minister

The opening of Integrated Resorts in Japan will not pave the way for online gaming legalisation, according to Hachiro Okonogi, chairperson of the Liberal Democratic Party’s National Public Safety Commission.

The chair was pressed on the matter by an opposing politician, who noted the increasing prevalence of offshore gaming platforms during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Okonogi was unequivocal in his response: “There is precedent of online casinos being run in Japan, busted and tried in court.”

He further remarked that online gaming is the sole responsibility of the National Public Safety Commission, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of the IR Development Act, nor the minster in charge of the Casino Management Committee.

“The reason online casinos are not subject to the ‘casino acts’ in the IR Development Act is because online casinos are illegal in the first place.

“There are provisions on casino acts in the existing IR Development Act, but it does not include online casinos and they are not subject to this regulation.”

The country’s progress towards opening three Integrated Resorts has picked up pace in the early days of 2021. Projects in Yokohama (pictured), Nagasaki and Osaka have all gained interest from numerous international gaming operators, with the market viewed as a lucrative expansion opportunity.

Regardless of the current state of play, it is no large leap to think online gaming would become a key legislative discussion should the IR projects perform well.

That said, given how arduous the move towards land-based operation has been, it is unlikely any subsequent move to online would be particularly timely.