A steady rain did not deter about 80 protesters from gathering and marching in the streets of Osaka on July 5 against the plan to build an IR at Yumeshima Island. The theme of the march was “Casinos are No Good.”
Asia Gaming Brief conducted an interview with one of the organizers, Professor Teruo Sakurada of Hannan University, who is both the leader of the “Osaka Network to Consider the Casino Problem” as well as the author of the January 2015 Japanese-language book, The Illusion that Casinos Can Revitalize Regional Economies.
Sakurada argues, as his book title suggests, that casinos usually do not create the economic boom that local communities are hoping for, but rather function to simply redistribute wealth from other areas. “If they build a giant IR at Yumeshima, you would certainly see a drop in sales in commercial areas such as Umeda and Namba,” he says.
Sakurada also asserts that the man-made island of Yumeshima is unfit for the construction of an IR, because the land itself will not be able to support the kind of high-rise buildings that are envisioned. He predicts that an attempt to build a major IR at Yumeshima would create a facility that will be highly vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, with the potential to result in a grave disaster.
While he does share the concerns of other anti-casino activists about gambling addiction and other matters, he comes at the issue of IRs as an economist: “This is not an appropriate business model,” he states.
The “Osaka Network to Consider the Casino Problem” has been active in opposing the local IR plan for about five years.