Shinzo Abe’s vision: Casinos to be pillar of Japan’s future economic growth

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Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Japan made huge contributions to Indo-Japan relations. One of the few bright minds aware of the security situation in Asia, Abe pressed on the  responsibility of India and Japan to come together to ensure regional freedom and prosperity which is now a reality with the QUAD group.

In the gaming circles, Abe is known for bringing the Integrated Resorts concept to Japan. In 2012, he toured Singapore’s two lavish gaming venues and famously said ‘casinos could become a pillar of Japan’s country’s future economic growth.’

Under his leadership, the Parliament passed a law commonly known as the Integrated Resort (IR) Promotion Law in 2016. It stated that casino gambling would be permitted, but only inside an IR. In July 2018, another bill followed, known as the IR Maintenance Law.

Under the above two laws passed during the regime of Abe, casino services may be provided only within IR areas with authorisation by the Minister of Land, and Infrastructure. IR operators must operate a complex mixture of facilities, such as convention centres, recreational facilities, tourist facilities and accommodation facilities, as well as casinos.  A stand-alone casino business operator will not qualify as a licensed casino business operator.

The number of licenses is limited to 3. In April, the Nagasaki assembly approved Casinos Austria International as the preferred partner for the development of a casino in the integrated resort with eight hotels, and multiple conference and exhibition centres. MGM Resorts, the US Casino operator has pledged a total investment of $15.6 billion to complete and operate a resort in Osaka.

“Tourism is expected to recover once the infectious disease is contained. IR will help Japan become an advanced tourism country,” Abe said to the Parliament, a month before his resignation.

With his sudden resignation and the change of two Prime Ministers in a short span, the IR plan is yet to be fully implemented. An able administrator, his initiatives for the gaming industry will be remembered.