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The government of Japan has approved the controversial plan of establishing the first casino in the country. However, the resort casino will be opened in the western city of Osaka in 2029.
Japan has a long history of banning all forms of gambling. But a new law that was passed in 2018 provides exceptions to popular casino games like poker and baccarat. These games are popular as they create jobs and boost tourism in the country.
Nevertheless, public opinion has been split, with some people concerned about increased crime and gambling addiction over the past few years. The 5.3 million square foot complex will comprise a hotel, conference center, a shopping mall, and a museum.
The Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, said:
“We hope (the casino) will become a tourism base that promotes Japan’s charms to the world.”
The much-awaited project is expected to cost 1.8tn Yen, equivalent to $13.5bn. The US-based casino operator MGM and Japan’s Orix Group own a 40% stake in the new company.
The other 20% has been left for local companies like West Japan Rail, Kansai Electric Power, and Osaka-based Panasonic.
According to Japanese officials, the casino resort will attract around 20 million visitors every year and generate a revenue of 1tn Yen annually. Though this project was proposed many years ago, it was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, there was a corruption scandal involving the ruling party lawmaker, who was accused of receiving bribes.
Being the world’s third-largest economy with a population of around 126 million, Japan is a very promising gambling market. Also, the country enjoys close proximity to wealthy Asian gamblers, particularly from China. Macau is the only city where gambling is legal at the moment.
Another plan is underway to build a world-class casino at Huis Ten Bosch Park.