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The Japanese government briefed on a venture it will take up through which it intends to prevent overindulging in gambling becoming a social issue post the opening of the first casino for business, besides the estimation of the critics that ‘it will be relatively easy to circumvent the safeguards.’

They also alarm that Japan’s organised crime groups are looking forward with escalating interest as legislation makes its way through the Diet to allow casinos to operate as part of larger “integrated resorts” that integrate hotels, convention centres, shops, and other entertainment complexes.

The government’s proposal demands Japanese nationals and permanent foreign residents to be confined in their number of entrance into a casino to up to three times in any seven consecutive days or 10 times in any 28 days.

To monitor the number of visits a person makes, the government has proposed that anyone entering a casino would need to present their ‘My Number identity card.’ The My Number system is still being rolled out by the government and which effectively acts as a repository of information on citizens and foreign residents, with the 12-digit identification number providing details on the holder’s tax, medical insurance, pension payment history, and other details.

Critically for the government’s casinos plan, it acts as proof of the bearer’s age and a function can be introduced to flag an individual who is trying to enter a casino more than the allowed number of times.

Tokyo has been toying with the idea of opening a limited number of casinos in different parts of the country to try to attract more foreign tourists who enjoy gambling but might go elsewhere in Asia – notably Macau or Singapore – but also because it will inevitably mean a windfall for the national coffers.

Japanese authorities have been watching Singapore’s experience with gambling scrupulously and it is feasible that the government will adopt some of the restrictions that are in place on gamblers in the city-state including provisions that permit a person to voluntarily halt himself from casinos or for families to impose a ban on a relative with a gambling problem.

Successive Japanese administrations have never been able to push through the law required to repeal the blanket ban on casinos due to a number of concerns, the largest of which are the likelihood of a rise in social problems caused by gambling and the involvement of organised crime groups.

There has been a degree of political resistance against the government’s plan, including from the Komeito Party, which serves as the Liberal Democratic Party’s junior partner in the ruling coalition.

According to Makoto Watanabe, an Associate Professor of Communications and Media at Hokkaido Bunkyo University : “There are a lot of people who think there are going to be a lot of new problems associated with casinos as soon as they start to open – the worries surrounding gambling addiction are genuine and it will be extremely difficult for the authorities to enforce these rules that they have suggested.”

While talking to the South China Morning Post he added: “Anyone who wants to gamble enough will borrow their My Number card from a friend or steal someone’s – I can see a growing underground trade in these cards that will be difficult to stop. I hear stories that the yakuza are very excited about the government’s plans as well. The government has said that it will take every measure possible to ensure that organised crime does not get involved in casinos, but they have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years, so it will be hard to determine which companies are legitimate and which are fronts for the underworld.”

Source: European Gaming Media and Events