IR experts’ committee finishes its report

On Monday, the eight-member Experts’ Committee advising the Abe government on its forthcoming IR Implementation Bill held its tenth and final regular meeting, wrapping up a stage of the process that began in March.

The Experts’ Committee report will soon be forwarded to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and it is expected to form the basis of the forthcoming IR Implementation Bill.

Later in August, the public comment period is expected to begin, and sometime during the autumn Extraordinary Diet Session it is anticipated that the legislation will be submitted for parliamentary consideration.

Actual passage into law is thought likely to occur next year, after a separate bill is enacted to combat gambling addiction, which has emerged as a major public concern in relation to IRs.

The Experts’ Committee report includes the strict casino entry policies that have been reported earlier, including the requirement that Japan residents must present a “MyNumber Card” (the unpopular new personal ID cards) and limitations on the number of times individuals can enter.

Under the current plan, ATMs will not be available within the casino area, and only foreign visitors will be allowed to use credit cards. The advisory panel also proposed a limit on casino floor space.

One crucial new point of information is that the issuance of only two or three IR licenses is said to be contemplated at this time, not the four licenses foreseen by some industry analysts.

The proposed regulations however, have been met with backlash from casino executives and industry players, according to a report from Reuters.

Casino executives said the 15,000-square-metre limit could hit foreign investment and neutralise the economic impact of resorts.

“The current plans risk missing the mark on achieving public policy objectives,” said one casino executive to bureaucrats. “It’s serious enough to halve the maximum investment we’re willing to make.”

“Gaming companies are very rational: they’ll calculate how much revenue they can generate with a 15,000-square-metre casino floor, and they will only invest as appropriate for that, which certainly won’t be $10 billion,” said Seth Sulkin, chair of a task force at the American Chamber of Commerce Japan.