Although casinos are currently banned in Japan, other forms of gambling are both permitted and popular. Pachinko parlours, which offer players the chance to win prizes by playing what appear to be vertical pinball machines, are visited by people in their millions. The nation also allows gambling on horse racing and lotteries via officially licensed regulators.
Most commentators believe that the bill that was passed by the lower house last week could be enacted within the current parliamentary session and, if that happens, MPs will debate how best to move the idea forward. Agreements will need to be reached on myriad points, including the number of casinos that will be allowed, the maximum limits that a licensed casino will be able to accept and how profits will be taxed.
Pro-casino politicians, including current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, believe that legalising casinos in the country would have a number of positive effects, particularly in helping to boost tourism. Japan is readying itself for a marked increase in the number of tourists it is expected to receive when the Olympic Games take place in Tokyo in 2020 and, if casino gambling were introduced within a few years of that, it could encourage a higher level of repeat visits in the future.
We will have to wait and see whether or not casinos get the go-ahead in Japan, but if they do, the legislation could well trigger a gambling revolution that sends shockwaves of innovation around the world. Here in the West we have already seen how comic book, video game and film titles have inspired the creation of scores of massive popular casino games, so the mind boggles when one imagines how the gambling industry might be inspired by Japanese video game developers, anime producers and Japanese culture as a whole.
Whilst we don’t expect to see a Pokemon Go gambling title any time soon, but we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see something like that launched in the future. Watch this space and we’ll keep you posted.