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Japan: Law to Establish Casino Resorts Enacted

(Sept. 20, 2018) The Act on Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas was enacted in Japan in July 2017. (Integrated Resort Development Act, Act No. 80 of 2018, KANPOU [OFFICIAL GAZETTE] Extra ed. No. 166 (July 27, 2018), at 18, National Printing Bureau website (in Japanese).) This Act corresponds to the Act on Promotion of Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas that was enacted in December 2016. (Integrated Resort Promotion Act, Act No. 115 of 2016, Ministry of Justice’s Japanese Law Translation website.) These Acts concerning “integrated resorts” define “specified complex tourist facilities” as facilities integrating casino facilities, convention and conference facilities, recreation facilities, exhibition facilities, accommodation facilities, and other facilities. (Integrated Resort Promotion Act art. 2; Integrated Resort Development Act art. 2.) The government intends to promote tourism and regional economies while facilitating the improvement of public finance by the development of integrated resorts. (Integrated Resort Promotion Act art. 1.)

Japan has no casinos. The Penal Code of Japan states that a person who runs a for-profit gambling establishment is punishable by imprisonment for three months to five years. (PENAL CODE, Act No. 45 of 1907, as amended by Act No. 72 of 2017, art. 185, para. 2, Japanese Law Translation website.) However, gaming and gambling establishments would be legal if specific legislation to allow them were enacted. (Id. art. 35; Ministry of Justice Criminal Affairs Bureau, Material Provided by the Ministry of Justice for 8th Conference on Promotion of Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas (July 18, 2017), Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet website (in Japanese).) The Integrated Resort Promotion Act and Integrated Resort Development Act allow the establishment of casinos and gambling at integrated resorts. (Integrated Resort Promotion Act arts. 1 & 2; Integrated Resort Development Act arts. 1 & 2.)

By January 2020, the government is obligated to establish a Casino Management Committee that manages the establishment of casinos and maintains order in the management of casinos. (Integrated Resort Development Act arts. 213 & 214.) The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) must establish a basic policy on developing integrated resorts by July 2020. (Id. art. 5.) Then, prefectures or designated large cities (large cities designated by a Cabinet order) that plan to establish an integrated resort must set the implementation policy for the resort’s development in line with the basic policy of the MLIT. (Id. art. 6.) A prefecture or a designated large city must choose a company to submit an application to the MLIT for approval to develop an integrated resort. (Id. art. 8.) The application periods are to be publicized by a Cabinet order. The MLIT can approve up to three integrated resort plans nationwide. (Id. art. 9, paras. 10 & 11.)

Once a casino has been established and in operation, the national government and the government of a prefecture or designated large city must jointly impose a casino-entrance fee of 3,000 yen (about US$27) for residents of Japan (id. arts. 176 & 177), as well as a 15%-tax on the casino’s profits (id. arts. 192 & 193).