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Japan looks to fight gambling addiction ahead of casino openings

  • April 19, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 03:11 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO – The Cabinet on Friday approved a plan to limit customers’ access to betting establishments and remove cash machines from the facilities, as the Japanese government attempts to curtail problem gambling ahead of the opening of a number of casinos.


Prefectures nationwide will formulate their own steps based on the government’s plan, with authorities required to take action under the basic law on measures against addiction enacted in October.


“We will create a healthy society by thoroughly implementing measures based on the basic plan in order to prevent people from finding themselves in difficult situations,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during a government meeting.


Japan hopes to see casinos established in up to three locations as part of “integrated resorts” comprising hotels, conference facilities and shopping areas by the mid-2020s as it seeks to attract foreign tourists and boost regional economies.


Under the basic plan covering three years from fiscal 2019, operators of slot machine and pachinko parlors and government-operated gambling venues, including horse racing and keirin racing tracks, have been asked to remove cash machines from their facilities.


The pachinko parlor operators have been urged to introduce a system by next spring to restrict entry by certain customers at the request of their family members.


The operators of the various gambling venues have been also asked to research how underage people or problem gamblers can be barred from entering through the use of an ID check system.


But these measures are mere requests from the government that do not carry penalties.


Among other measures, the government envisions a warning about gambling addiction to be placed in advertisements, including those in newspapers, magazines, and in TV commercials. The basic plan also calls for putting a restriction on the value of online bets that can be placed on horse races and other events.


The government seeks to set up consultation and treatment hubs in each of the country’s 47 prefectures and in 20 major cities, while providing enhanced support to private organizations that host recovery programs for gambling addiction.


Japan ended its ban on casino gambling when it enacted the integrated resorts promotion law last July amid stiff resistance from opposition parties and widespread public wariness about the impact of increased access to gambling.

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