National

Government may limit casino visits to 10 per month, to be tracked using My Number identity cards

Kyodo

The government on Thursday presented ruling lawmakers with a plan to limit the number of times people can enter casinos to around 10 visits per month.

The plan is part of measures to prevent gambling addiction, but it has already met with opposition from lawmakers of the Liberal Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with some saying the envisioned restriction is too strict.

Amid differences of opinions between the government and the ruling coalition of the LDP and Komeito, both sides will continue negotiations.

A law that took effect last year ended a ban on casinos in the nation as long as they are part of “integrated resorts” that combine hotels and large event facilities, but further legislation is required to dictate how those entertainment venues will be allowed to operate.

Under the plan, put forward by the government to the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito, up to three visits would be allowed in seven consecutive days and 10 visits in 28 consecutive days.

Japanese nationals and foreigners living in Japan will be subject to the restrictions.

The government hopes the casinos will help attract more foreign tourists to Japan with the limitations not applying to those who do not live in the country.

If approved by the ruling parties, the government will be able to add the entrance restrictions to a bill on the rules under which casino gambling will be introduced.

The government plans to submit the bill to the Diet by the end of March but the prospects remain uncertain, as some Komeito lawmakers continue to oppose casino gambling.

The current plans intend to keep track of casino visits by using government-issued My Number identity cards, which have an embedded IC chip.

The government has also set a limit on the size of a casino at 15,000 square meters, and has said the facilities should not exceed 3 percent of the land space of an integrated resort.

Ruling lawmakers, however, have expressed doubts about the use of the identity cards for tracking, as their issuance rate stands at only about 10 percent, while some have said the area restrictions will make it difficult for operators to make a profit.

Through further deliberations with the ruling parties the government is hoping to incorporate other rules into the bill, including admission fees for Japanese nationals and the number of locations where casinos can be built.