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Banking group Resona Holdings Inc., currently under rehabilitation, has begun setting up automated teller machines in unconventional places to boost profit.

As of the end of September, Resona had set up three ATMs at Hanshin Race Course in Hyogo Prefecture and five at an off-track betting center for horse racing in Tokyo’s Korakuen district.

Resona officials said it was a first for Japan.

“It is convenient,” said a 26-year-old businessman who withdrew money from an ATM at Korakuen on Sunday before making a bet. “I came here without taking out money because I know I can do it here.”

As many as 80,000 people gather at the betting center on Sundays when there is a major race, a Japan Racing Association official said.

Resona had not considered horse-racing facilities before, spokesman Takehiko Komiya said.

“In the past, we just set up ATMs around train stations,” he said. “But some of them turned out to be unprofitable.”

Resona Bank, the core unit of the group, had 526 ATMs outside of its branches in the Kanto and Kansai regions as of September.

Komiya said a bank can earn profits from its ATMs if it pin-points busy streets and installs machines where people congregate. In Japan it usually costs more than 100 yen to withdraw money via another bank’s ATM.

The Resona group was bailed out by the government in July 2003 and is under pressure to return 3.13 trillion yen in public funds. Resona Holdings reported a group net loss of 1.66 trillion yen for the year that ended March 31.

Resona might set up ATMs in some outlets of Yoshinoya D&C Co., which operates a chain of restaurants serving “gyudon” beef-on-rice dishes.

In a tieup agreement struck earlier this month, Yoshinoya provides Resona with information about properties that can be leased jointly by both firms or that are too small for a Yoshinoya outlet but big enough for a Resona ATM.

Given the installation and maintenance costs, it is unclear whether Resona’s new ATM strategy will contribute to profits, said Nozomu Kunishige, a banking analyst at BNP Paribas Securities (Japan) Ltd.

“I wish there were no ATMs here,” said Kazuya Ikeda at the Korakuen betting center. “As I can withdraw money here, I’m worried about spending too much.”

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