Monday, June 25, 2007

Time for an update

Casino gambling in Japan is still making progress towards legalization.
Here's the first article I saw that stated it clearly.

Hell, let me quote the entire article:

Japan to legalise casino industry - 29/05/07

The Japanese government plans to legalise casino gambling next year and is currently drafting the legislation. Seiko Noda of the ruling Liberal Democratic said that they hoped to pass the bill by the end of the next ordinary Diet session in June 2008.

The party is hoping that casinos will boost tourism, as it has in Macau, and increase tax revenues.

That's what I wanted to hear!

Several other articles I have seen have also stated essentially the same thing. I wonder why it will apparently take up to a year to draft and then pass the legislation - it strikes me like a husband making plans for a getaway trip with his buddies and not telling his wife about it until the last minute, "waiting for the right time". The wife in this case is probably both the Japanese public, whose reaction to this announcement will be hard to predict, and the pachinko industry, which should be easier. Smaller-scale pachinko operators will probably hate the idea, since it threatens to steal their customers. The equipment companies can probably re-tool to service the slots and other gambling machines in the casinos, and so could see it as a new opportunity to make a pile of money.

I will be curious to see if they adapt any of the medal games you see in Japanese game centers to straight gambling machines for currency in the casinos. Some are straight slot machines, others are maddeningly addictive coin-launching, spinning, shooting devices with Rube Goldberg spinning wheels and contraptions that can suck you in for hours at a time. I'd think these would be pretty easy to port over, though they might have to tweak the payouts a bit, since I think many medal games are set to pay out liberally, since even if you win more medals than you put in, you can't use them for anything but... more medal games.

One reason for the legislation taking so long to draft is probably location of the casinos. Last I heard they were planning to limit the casinos to up to three main locations, and several areas have pushed for them, including Tokyo, Osaka, Okinawa, and Miyazaki-ken. The government will probably have to consider carefully where to permit the new casinos, considering they plan to use them to increase tourism, jobs, and revenue, but also have to be careful of increased crime and violence in those areas.

If they open the new casinos in Okinawa instead of Tokyo, I'll shoot myself. Who the hell wants to fly all the way down there to go gamble? Might as well just fly to Seoul at that point - closer, cheaper, and better food. (No, I don't like goya.) Obviously I'm hoping for something near Tokyo. The Odaiba area would be perfect, in my humble opinion.

More details about the plan are available at this article:

In particular, casinos are seen as a way to revitalise local economies, which have not enjoyed the economic recovery seen recently in large urban centres. Leading casino operators, including Las Vegas Sands and Genting of Malaysia, had told the LDP there was "tremendous potential, because Japan could attract interest from north China and Russia, where there has been huge [economic] growth", she said.

"There is definitely enough demand for casinos," says Aaron Fisher, analyst at CLSA in Tokyo. Tokyo, in particular, has a large population within a two-hour radius earning a lot of money. "Definitely the returns [could be] huge," he says.

Unfortunately this sounds like they are thinking of opening these casinos outside the Tokyo area to try to spread the wealth around. Ugh. Two hours by bullet train covers a lot of area, and bullet train tickets add up. When I was snowboarding, train tickets to get up to Niigata or Nagano could run 10,000-20,000yen for a round trip. Arriving at the casino already stuck for $100 will make it hard to show a profit.

Still. Cheaper than Vegas.

1 comment:

W. said...

Thanks for that update, James.
To get an actual casino built, to see the gambling floor(s) go through several configurations before the games with staying power are decided and their positions nailed down, and to actually see a poker room set up in that casino would have to take at least 2 to 3 years from the time legislation is passed. Well, progress is being made bit by bit... At least we can say that.