Monday, April 23, 2007

More good signs

Found another couple of encouraging news articles recently on Japan opening up to casino gambling. Here's an AFP Article I found in a couple of places, but this seems to be the last place that has it still up.

The world's top casino operators are jockeying for a take in a vast but untapped market as Japan moves closer to an overhaul of its strict gambling laws to lure rich Asian tourists and boost its economy.

Japan would be a latecomer to a gambling boom across the region, which is looking to Las Vegas-style super casinos to entice more tourists, with two huge complexes springing up in Singapore to take on the Chinese enclave of Macau.


Almost half of the lower house of parliament -- including some opposition lawmakers -- supports the general idea of legalising casinos, said Toru Mihara, adviser to the LDP's casino study group.

"If we can create legal structures within one or two years to come, maybe in 2012 casinos in Japan will start to operate," he told AFP in an interview.

2012? That's five years from now! I mean, I'll take it, but I was hoping for something sooner. Can't you guys, you know, pass the law and then set up some converted warehouse casino for us degenerate gamblers for a year or two while they build the Wynn Tokyo? We're not that picky.

This article, however, paints a brighter picture.

Driven by fiercer regulation and a consumer credit crunch that has directly hit pachinko’s heaviest players, key segments of the industry are expected to contract by as much as 50 per cent over the next two years. Industry experts forecast that about a third of Japan’s 15,000 pachinko parlours — deafeningly loud, smoke-filled caverns where customers lose themselves for hours — may close.

But the imminent pachinko crisis will “vastly accelerate” plans by the Japanese Government to legalise casinos, one of the industry’s leading figures told The Times. To compete with Macau and other Asian cities where casino gaming is set for astronomic growth, Tokyo and other big Japanese cities may have their first Las Vegas-style casinos within three years.

Three years! Now we're talking!

I don't play pachinko, I don't get pachinko, so I don't know the market. But I doubt that hard core pachinko players are just going to up and quit the game because some of the big jackpot machines are outlawed. Likewise, pachinko operators and game manufacturers aren't going to just go, "oh well, guess we can't make those machines anymore. We'll go back to the old lower-payout machines and lose our customers." People can be very creative when they're trying to find a new way to separate you from your money. I don't know what they'll do, but I'm sure they'll do something to keep pachinko players relatively happy and spending their idle hours firing ball bearings up and watching them drop, hoping to make some money off of it.

The guy who made the quote is the head of Aruze, and a partner with Steve Wynn, so he stands to make a ton of money opening a casino here and filling it with his gambling machines. So he's not the most unbiased observer of the market. But I'll still be happy to see him right.


Chris said...

Hi. I came across your blog when doing a random search on Poker and Japan. I am out west in Fukuoka and have been looking for a live game for a long time. Spend most of my time on the online sites. I hope you don't mind but I would like to link to you on my blog if that is ok.

James said...

No problem, Chris, and thanks!

If I hear about any games in Fukuoka I'll let you know. ^^;

southofreality said...

There definitely is a bit of a poker boom happening in the Tokyo area right now. It'd be nice to see a big casino open up here in Kanto.
Anyway, cool blog. I'll roll it.
Keep in touch and we can trade info about home games in Tokyo.



Vimto said...


Just moved to Tokyo with work, and trying to get my fix of poker. I was wondering if the 3 poker leagues you mentioned are good for people who know very little (3 words) of Japanese. Places near Roppongi Hills would be great.



James said...

Hi guys, thanks for the comments. I haven't been updating recently, so sorry I have not responded until now!

SouthOfReality - thanks for the compliment! Tokyo poker seems to be gaining ground slowly but steadily, I am pleased to see. Another couple years and we'll have casinos in Japan, and if we're lucky there might even be a poker room! I am looking forward to that. Thanks for the link - I have only had a chance to take a quick look at your blog but it looks fun so I will link back to it sometime soon.

James said...

Vimto - welcome to Tokyo! I trust you will have a good time while you're here. If not, you're working too hard. Cut it out!

Most of the pubs running poker games have someone who can handle rudimentary English, but it won't be the smoothest experience. Duke has several good English speakers, so would be a good first choice. J.O., the owner, is fully fluent and has lived overseas. Mari is also quite good, and many of the others should be happy to help you out.

The JPPA room in Ueno also has Hiroshi, whose English is excellent. However he's not around all the time - often he's off overseas somewhere playing poker! At the moment he's at the WSOP so I wouldn't expect him back for a while

There's the club in Roppongi called Pleasure that has games about once a week, so that would be the closest. However I am not sure if they have any English-speakers there. I'll try to find out - remind me if I forget. For a poker player, I'm extremely forgetful.

Also close by is Bar Jack in Shibuya. I think they have a few people who can manage in English, so I will try to find out.

This coming week I'm hoping to hit one or two places for weeknight games, probably including Duke on Friday night. If you like, we can meet up there and I can help get you sorted. Let me know. Cheers!