Japan's Casino Administration Committee holds inaugural meeting - IAG

Sunday 12th January 2020

The Casino Administration Committee, Japan's newly created regulatory body that will oversee the nation's IRs, held its first meeting on Friday.

Already underway is the drafting of rules for game types and customer service requirements, which will include the "most stringent casino standards in the world." This work is being performed in anticipation of IR operators beginning operations in the second-half of the 2020s.

The Committee was established on 7 January as an external department of the Cabinet Office. In addition to Chairman Michio Kitamura, formerly of the Fukuoka High Prosecutor's Office, there are a further four members, including a psychiatrist and former police inspector. Kitamura said his ambition was to "implement a strict supervisory structure that will be neutral and fair to ensure the proper operation of any casino business."

The 95-person secretariat also began work on 10 January. It comprises the General Affairs Planning Department that will handle problem gambling countermeasures and the Supervisory Investigation Department that will examine the careers and assets of operator executives, and is responsible for granting licenses. They will assist the Committee in deciding whether to grant or revoke a license.

The Committee will specify the outline of regulations, which will control operators, within 2020. There are more than 200 items for legislation, including game types, such as roulette and poker, and customer service, such as food and beverage.

The Committee will not be directly involved in the selection of IR operators but will be involved in their selection criteria. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will offer its opinion in advance of the Fundamental Policy for selection due to be announced before the end of the month. The draft released by the government last September set out standards in five areas such as the operator's operational capabilities and the economic benefits of such business.

Local governments are responsible for recruiting and selecting operators based on the Fundamental Policy. Local administrations and operators will submit facility plans to the government between January and July 2021. Afterwards, there will be negotiations at IR Promotion headquarters established by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and attended by experts and ministers. A maximum of three regions will be authorized for IR facilities and the Administration Committee will begin their supervision of the operators.

Toyo University Professor Toru Mihara has commented, "In order to balance regulation with economic revitalization, we should discuss the rules and legislation in a transparent fashion, while seeking public opinion."

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