With the opposition launching a strong campaign against the government as it seeks a ban on casinos in the country, investors and operators looking forward to Japan’s prospective casino gambling industry have been watchful.
Despite the arrest of a ruling party lawmaker, Tsukasa Akimoto, the government has already confirmed that it is not moving an inch from its plans to develop three integrated casino resorts in the first phase of the proposed gambling expansion.
On Christmas Day, the investigating agencies in Japan arrested Akimoto over charges of taking bribes from a Nasdaq-listed Chinese gambling operator 500.com.
Akimoto was a deputy minister in the government who was in charge of monitoring the government’s casino policy. He is said to have been allegedly bribed by the company as 500.com sought favors during the casino licensing process.
On Friday, as scheduled, Japan’s Casino Regulatory Commission met for the first time since it was formed. All five members of the Commission along with its head Michio Kitamura, former chief of the Fukuoka High Public Prosecutors Office, held a closed-door meeting.
The members reportedly discussed progress on the regulatory framework concerning Japan’s IRs. It also looked at the process of licensing. The Commission will be monitoring the process of awarding casino licenses in Japan.
Following the meeting, talking to the press, Kitamura said:
“The members of the commission and staff of its secretariat will unite and work with a sense of tension to build trust with the public over casino business.”
He also emphasized the Commission’s commitment to addressing the issues raised by those who have been a critic of Integrated Resorts.
Kitamura said that they are also taking up the issues of gambling addiction and increased gambling-related crimes that could potentially arise. He said that such issues will be addressed and dealt with appropriately.