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Last updated - 4 months ago!

Investors ecstatic as Japan legalizes casinos

Published on by Adam

iGamingJapanFor many players, a trip to their favourite land-based casino has a very specific flavour, a set of sensory experiences that characterize their time there. The bubbles of champagne, the little nibbles, the familiar uniforms. A recent legislation change in Japan might be about to broaden that range of experiences.

Japan legalizes casinos

Known as the Diet, the legislative body of Japan has legalized casinos, through a bill passed on December 15th 2016. This shift in position is a big deal for casino operators and will present a number of unique opportunities as well as a few challenges.

Competition for Macau

Macau, the former Portuguese territory on the south coast of China, is the closest gambling hub to Japan and it already has a thriving casino community. Because of it is so close to home for many Chinese players, Macau has so far been the natural choice for high rollers looking to spend some serious cash. With casinos now possible in Japan in the near future, these players will be eager to try out this new flavour of gambling.

For operators in Macau, this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is the risk that some of their players will defect to the Land of the Rising Sun, for the novelty of it and because it is so geographically close. On the other, being so close to a nascent gambling scene, ripe for development, provides a number of opportunities for expansion.

There’s also the small matter of the projected value of a Japanese casino industry – a heart-stopping $40 billion annually, which dwarves Macau’s annual takings, which came in at a respectable $10 billion in 2015. These projections are no doubt based on revenue brought in not just by foreign players but by local ones too. Japan already has a thriving gambling culture of its own, one that will definitely benefit from and contribute to a local casino industry.

Plinking Pachinko

While Japanese high rollers may have to travel overseas to get their fix, local gamblers look to pachinko to satisfy their cravings for excitement. Pachinko is a hybrid of pinball and slot machine, ‘paying out’ little silver balls that clatter down through the machine, creating a heck of a din in the highly popular pachinko parlours. These little spheres are then traded and then traded again for money outside the parlour.

International interest

With news of this legislative turnaround came the interest from investors. A completely brand new market in a stable country with a thriving economy – what’s not to love, from an investor’s point of view? Entities like Hard Rock and MGM Resorts International have already expressed interest in expanding their businesses into Japan. With analysts calling a Japanese casino hub the ‘Holy Grail’, we can expect some pretty amazing things to come in the future.

Considering the huge global impact that Japan has, it’s an exciting time for players. Even within online gaming, the influence of Asian culture is tangible – just look at games like Koi Princess, Geisha Wonders and Thunderfist – and you can be sure that the online casino world will be all the better for it. So it’s a big kon’nichiwa from us!

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