The Gambling Law Review: Japan

Overview

i Introduction

On 27 July 2018, the Japanese Diet passed the Act for Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas (the Act), which legalises gambling to be operated by licensed private entities in certain designated locations within Japan.

The passage of the Act has garnered strong interest domestically and internationally, as it allows the licensed private entities to operate a 'Complex Tourist Facilities Area', more commonly referred to as an 'Integrated Resort' (IR), which by definition under the Act shall include a casino (Article 2 of the Act). As described more in Section II, although the Japanese Penal Code (Act No. 45 of 1907) generally prohibits any form of gambling, which to date has only been allowed in connection with public sports and lottery, the Act explicitly legalises gambling in a certain designated area by excluding the application of the Penal Code (Article 39 of the Act).

While the Act delegates many aspects to the determination by the Cabinet Order and other subordinate rules (in fact there are 331 items that are left for the government to determine), the Act sets out the overarching principles regarding the following matters:

  1. framework regarding the implementation of an IR;
  2. regulations regarding the casino (gambling) and casino related business (such as the facilities and equipment);
  3. financial affairs; and
  4. overseeing bodies and penalties.

Below are some of the key features that should be of interest to those who are considering entering into the Japanese casino market, and also a brief guidance on which types of business would require licensing or certification, what sort of policies and agreements are necessary for the implementation of an IR, and the effective date regarding the various portions of the Act.

Footnotes

1 Hitoshi Ishihara is a partner at Anderson Mōri & Tomotsune.

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