For Japan’s casinos to work, keep the yakuza out and deal with problem drinking: experts

by

Staff Writer

As the nation debates how to establish and operate casinos via integrated resorts, it must take measures to keep the yakuza out and manage not only problem gambling but also develop a responsible drinking policy for the casino floor, a group of U.S. experts said in two new reports.

The conclusions and recommendations were issued by the International Gaming Institute of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas earlier this week. The reports cover the socioeconomic impact of integrated resorts and detail what Japan could learn Nevada’s own history with gambling and organized crime.

“The global gaming industry (as well as the general public) is well aware that the yakuza have been active in gambling activities in Japan, which mandates an aggressive approach,” the report on organized crime said.

The institute recommended that Japan adopt a stringent pre-licensing review that includes a certain level of investigating personal and financial backgrounds of resort owners and executives to ensure they do not have affiliations with known or suspected gang members.

“For Japan to attract the desired and desirable kind of globally-competitive capital investment in its integrated resorts, which will in turn allow for the kinds of globally-competitive integrated resort destinations to be constructed, there can be no association with organized crime at all — the banks, the investment community, and the most respected casino operators simply will not, indeed cannot, participate,” the report concluded.

Jennifer Roberts, associate director at the UNLV International Center for Gaming Regulation and a law professor, said Japan can learn from Nevada’s 85-plus years of experience in regulating casinos, and from other parts of the world, as it tries to figure out how to keep the yakuza out.

“The continued study and review of how different jurisdictions have grappled with organized crime and criminal elements in gaming by all levels of those involved — government, industry, and citizens — will create an informed groundwork for establishing regulations and rules that will work to keep such elements at bay,” she said.

The other report, covering socioeconomic impacts, offers advice on a range of public health issues such as gambling addiction and the sale of alcohol.

“Japan has a high prevalence of heavy episodic drinking, particularly among men,” the report said. “Policies around the distribution of alcohol should address this risk and include appropriate responses to intoxicated players.”

“Drinking is a normative adult activity, but it’s important for Japan to consider the appropriate standards for alcohol service, employee training, and public safety,” said report co-author Kahlil S. Philander, an assistant professor at the School of Hospitality Business Management within the Carson College of Business at Washington State University.

“In markets that find the right balance, we see minimum government standards that are enhanced by thoughtful operator programs,” Philander said. “Ultimately, it’s about good customer service and protecting public safety in the local community.”