Sunday, December 4, 2016

Casino gambling bill will be passed in Japan

The Japan lower house committee passed a bill to allow casino gambling on Dec 2nd, 2016. It will enable companies to develop gambling resorts in Japan.

Kyodo News: Casino bill clears Japan Diet panel after rapid deliberation

So far, Japan has banned gambling facilities and relevant acts such as poker, blackjack, and roulette. However, public house race, cycling race, and powerboat race, with betting money, are frequently conducted. National soccer league is also subjected to gambling legally.

In addition, though it is hard to understand for foreign people, pachinko and slot machines are also practically permitted in Japan. There are many pachinko parlors unofficially administered in every city in Japan. They are not deemed as gambling facilities, because parlors do not give money to customers at all. Instead, they offer some goods as prizes. Winners can exchange these goods into money in stores nearby. Thus, pachinko is not defined as a gamble in a legal context, but every player enjoys it as gambling. It is widely recognized that some antisocial organizations are associated with pachinko parlor administration, although most customers are not concerned about the fact.

Furthermore, some Japanese enjoy gambling using several ways other than casino facilities. In recent years, some companies selling digital goods with a virtual slot machine in social games were condemned as they attract customers’ gambling mind. Real money trade, or trading virtual items in a network game with real currency, was also subjected to the argument. The combination with a virtual slot and real money trade would construct explicit gambling.

And some people are eager to make FX trade. Some are engaged in it as a means of earning money. But others play FX with a sense of gambling.

After all, alternative forms of gambling have been well developed in Japan because of longitudinal regulation of gambling by the government. Therefore, if casino facilities are permitted, the influence on Japanese gamblers’ mind will be limited. Practically, only aged people who have been accustomed to house race and foreign travelers familiar with traditional blackjack will visit new facilities, for my prediction. Young people with a risk of pathological gambling will continue to be absorbed to other entertainment, including online games and money trades.

Abe administration is eager to pass the bill with expecting financial benefits, through attracting foreign people in the Olympic planned in Tokyo in 2020. This idea is correct, I think. Foreign travelers seldom have an opportunity to play Pachinko or Japanese horse race. Rather, they tend to visit traditional casinos.

On the other hand, gambling disorder, or pathological gambling, has not been studied in Japan because gambling is officially prohibited. It is ridiculous, for many Japanese are indulged in gambling behaviors with several ways. A recent survey suggested millions of Japanese are diagnosed with gambling disorder. I believe this result is a pretty exaggerated.
Nonetheless, it is sure that a certain amount of people are suffering from gambling disorder. We should treat them with appropriate ways. I expect the legalization of gambling will enable us to clarify the current situation to develop a treatment strategy for problematic gamblers.


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