National

Japan looks to cap online race betting amid concerns over gambling addiction

Kyodo

The government decided Tuesday to establish a system by the end of fiscal 2022 to limit online race betting as part of efforts to combat gambling addiction.

Concern about problem gambling has grown since a law to legalize casinos came into force last year.

The actual operation of casinos will require further legislation and the government is aiming to submit bills during the upcoming extraordinary Diet session expected to be convened next month.

Betting is currently allowed for horse, powerboat, bicycle and motorcycle racing. The government plans to open casinos in integrated resorts encompassing hotels, conference rooms, theaters and other entertainment facilities in the hope of boosting tourism.

The ministers at Tuesday’s meeting agreed to develop a system to restrict casino access to individuals suffering from gambling following requests from their families.

“It is essential to carry out measures to prevent people from falling into unfortunate situations due to (gambling) addiction,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at the meeting.

A government survey on gambling addiction will be completed next month.

Meanwhile, organizers of racing events are in discussions with financial institutions to remove automated teller machines from venues. ATMs were removed earlier this month from two of the three bicycle racing venues.

Boat racing venues have the most ATMs among the four sports, with 19 located inside and 11 outside venues, according to the Cabinet Office.

A support center for the prevention and rehabilitation of gambling addiction will start a free advice line in October, while the government is also planning to promote the establishment of specialized medical institutes and designated treatment facilities throughout the country.