Reader Mail

Japanese are big gamblers already

The Oct. 30 editorial “Take a balanced look at casinos” conflates two issues: introducing Western-style casinos and addressing the negative aspects of gambling.

Casino legislation has little to do with expanding the domestic gambling market in this country. Gambling is already a gigantic industry in Japan; we just choose to call it by different names or ignore it. If you include both pachinko and the underground businesses — there are thousands of illegal casinos in Tokyo alone — Japan already has one of the largest gambling markets in the world. Adding foreign-facing casinos will not make it much bigger.

Opening this gambling market to foreign tourists makes sense. Japan is behind the curve and has nothing to lose but tourist dollars. Combining casinos into an integrated resort to allow and encourage tourists to gamble is a model that has shown significant success in Singapore and is soon to be implemented in Taiwan.

The negative aspects of gambling are already here and will continue with or without new casinos. Connections to anti-social forces and addiction have been issues in the Japanese gambling world for years. Moving this business over-ground will help the problem, not make it worse. The Japanese government insists on not recognizing the biggest gambling businesses in Japan — pachinko parlors — as what any reasonable person would call them: casinos.

benjamin boas

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.