Osaka casino, Japan’s first, gets green light from the Kishida government

The “integrated resort” will be built on Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay. Opening is set for late 2029. It is expected to attract 20 million tourists per year, but many Japanese are concerned about its impact on gambling addition and organised crime.

Osaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Japan is getting into the casino business. The government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has approved a plan to open what will be the country's first casino.

Located on Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay, the integrated resort will have a large hotel, conference facilities and a gambling area, according to a plan drafted by Osaka Prefecture and Osaka Municipality. Opening is set for the fall-winter of 2029.

“We hope (the casino) will become a tourism base that promotes Japan's charms to the world," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

Until 2018, casinos were illegal in Japan along with other private gambling, but an integrated resort (IR) law adopted that year making an exception for casino games such as poker or baccarat at officially approved establishments with the aim of attracting tourists.

For casino operators, Japan is a prized market because of its affluent population of 126 million and proximity to Asia's wealthy gamblers. However, surveys show that ordinary Japanese fear gambling addiction and crime that are often associated with casinos.

To meet any objections, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism set seven conditions for casino development, including periodic research into gambling addiction to determine whether countermeasures are adequate.

The Yumeshima resort is expected to attract around 20 million visitors annually and bring in 1.14 trillion yen (US$ 8.6 billion) in annual economic benefits to the region.

Meanwhile, Nagasaki Prefecture has submitted its own plan for an integrated resort to the government for consideration.