Japan’s New Integrated Resort Framework Set to Take Effect on July 19

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Japan has been able to make huge strides in getting its new integrated resort (IR) industry into shape. After dealing with a couple of setbacks, substantial progress is now being seen. According to GGRAsia, based on the latest updates, the country’s IR Implementation Act (IRIA) and regulatory guidelines for IRs have been given the go-ahead by the Japanese Diet, with this Monday, July 19, the day they will officially be activated.

Japan Pushes Forward with IRs

Japan hasn’t had an easy time getting this far. What seemed like a simple process became problematic because of COVID-19 and internal issues within the government and the timetable had to be completely shifted. Initially expecting the first casino resorts to be possibly ready by 2024, the schedule was altered to project a 2028 launch. Now, however, the country is making up for lost time. There is an outside chance that an IR could be seen as early as 2026.

In order to facilitate that launch, whether for one or all three of the initial properties expected to be approved, lawmakers have signed off on the IRIA to move things forward. They have also been working on the final touches of the framework the Japan Casino Regulatory Commission will be given to regulate the IRs and their operations. As of this coming Monday, host locations and casino operators will know what’s expected of them with regards to licensing procedures, background checks, authorization of major shareholders, employee verification, authorized casino games and rules, gross gaming revenue shares, audits and more.

Taking Cues from the World of Gambling

There are a few areas of Japan that have shown a great deal of enthusiasm about the country’s IR plans and want to be involved from the start. Nagasaki, Yokohama, Osaka and Wakayama are at the forefront and, currently, appear to be the only ones in the hunt for one of the first three licenses to be issued. The implementation of the new rules and regulations will give them the ability to more clearly see what’s expected of them, as well as their casino partners, allowing them to develop local frameworks more completely. Adherence to the national guidelines is paramount to approval, and Japan’s IR regulators are not going to be forgiving if rules are bent or broken.

The idea behind the IR Basic Policy, and all of the regulations tied to the nascent market, is to build upon the experience in other markets to introduce a more well-rounded, well-founded framework in Japan. According to one scholar and analyst, Toru Mihara, the rules and regulations will be “sufficiently stringent” to guarantee the “integrity and safety” of casino operations and to ensure there’s no repeat of any embarrassing scandals.

Local Japanese governments hoping to host an IR are actively working on putting their projects together in order to present them to the national government. Potential casino operator partners will start to be revealed within the next few weeks and, by this time next year, it’s possible that the first IR locations will be announced. While the ability to see the first properties open ahead of the World Expo in Osaka in 2025, there could be at least one resort ready by the following year.

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