09/02/2017, 10.00
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Tokyo, 900,000 gamblers addicted to pachinko. But the government wants to legalize the casinos

University study denounces real situation. Rehabilitation to overcome addiction. The first casino could be opened by 2023.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - There are at least 900,000 Japan-based gamblers addicted to "pachinko", a pinball machine similar to slot machines, according to a new study that also raises concerns about the prospect promoted by the government to legalize casinos.

The survey was conducted by some universities and support groups for gamblers. As a sample, 9,000 men and women were chosen between the ages of 18 and 79.

" There has never been any research like this in the past so we never had any data before,” said Naoyuki Nishimura, founder of the Okinawa-based Pachinko Recovery Support Network NGO.“Now we are aware of the scale of the problem we can perhaps start to draw up plans to better help people who want to stop playing. Although I am concerned what will happen when the first casinos open.”

Public opinion is divided on the legalization of casinos. The government promises to organize public hearings in communities evaluating the construction of new structures.

In one of these hearings in Osaka, participants were split between those who emphasize the economic benefits and those who fear the infiltration of organized crime and the black market. Others look fearfully at the risk of growing gambling addictions.

Tokyo, Okinawa, and Yokohama City Governments are dealing with foreign and domestic companies for the construction of integrated resorts, including casinos. The first one could be inaugurated by 2023.

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