Rise of Legal Gambling Around the World: How is Japan Keeping Pace?

Gambling and betting have always accounted for a significant portion of the global economy, regardless of legality.

However, gambling’s global growth has accelerated in the previous five years, after the US Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to overturn the prohibition on sports betting despite the disagreement of several states. The wave of legalization spread to other nations, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. However, Japan is the nation that this incident has directly impacted. Just two months after lifting the gambling ban in the US, the “IR maintenance law” was passed in Japan in July 2018.

History of Gambling in Japan

Japan was considered the world’s gambling hub in the 17th century, employing 70,000 people. However, during Japan’s national isolation, gambling-related enterprises were prohibited, and all Japanese citizens were required to follow the central government’s rules. Gaming halls were built in Osaka, Kyoto, and other towns, drawing salarymen from all across the country. During the Meiji era, gambling was regarded as entertainment, but authorities changed their minds and proclaimed it prohibited in all forms. The Russo-Japanese War compelled the government to generate additional finances, which resulted in the resurgence of the gambling industry in Japan. However, casino business was illegal in modern Japan until 2018, when the ‘Casino Bill’ was passed.

What is the ‘Casino Bill’?

The “Casino Bill” is officially titled the “Act to Promote the Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facility Areas.” It is a law that promotes the development of integrated resort facilities (IR), including casinos in various tourist-heavy locations. Like other legal gambling operations, casinos would be regulated under the “Act on the Prevention of the Transfer of Criminal Proceeds.”

The ‘Casino Bill’ is divided into two bills:

  1. “IR promotion law”: enacted in December 2016 exemplifies the objective and strategy for creating a “special complex tourism facility,” which will include a casino.
  2. “IR Maintenance Law”: enacted in July 2018 establishes a method for carrying out the first law’s IR maintenance requirements.

The legislation is divided into four key sections:

  1. Regulations governing maintenance in the vicinity of the IR’s installation
  2. Regulations governing enterprises associated with casinos
  3. Financial rules, including entry fees and payment schedules
  4. General provisions, such as monitoring and sanctions

What does the term Integrated Resorts (IR) mean?

An integrated resort (IR) is a large facility that comprises a hotel and casino, as well as other amenities like conference space, theatres, amusement parks, shopping malls and so on. The term was first introduced in Singapore. This kind of concept was first conceived in Singapore in order to boost tourism earnings. Following its enormous success, many nations worldwide, including Japan, Australia, and Sri Lanka, have taken the necessary steps to establish Integrated Resorts.

Integrated Resort Projects in Japan

The lift of the casino ban in Japan is itself a piece of exciting news to the gambling enthusiasts and companies across the world. Three Integrated Resorts are planned to be installed in the first phase. The expected locations are:

  • Osaka-shi, Osaka
  • Sasebo City, Nagasaki
  • Wakayama (Mariana City)

However, Tokyo and Tokoname are still promising candidates for IR locations. Recently, the name of Yokohama city was withdrawn from the list due to political reasons.

Casinos in Japanese Integrated Resorts are to be furnished with all the cutting-edge facilities and charismatic infrastructure. The games expected to be played in the casinos are also halfway decided:

  1. Twenty-One (4 categories): Blackjack / Blackjack 6to5 / Blackjack Switch / Float
  2. Baccarat (2 categories) : Commission Baccarat / No Commission Baccarat
  3. Poker (8 categories ): Caribbean Stud / Three Cards / Texas Hold’em / Mississippi Stud / Let It Ride / Omaha Poker / Texas Hold’em / Poker Tournament
  4. Sic bo
  5. Casino War
  6. Roulette (2 categories): Single Zero Roulette / Double Zero Roulette
  7. Craps
  8. Money wheel
  9. Pai gow

The Economic Impact of Integrated Resort Casinos in Japan

Growth in Local and Overseas Tourism

The Japanese economy, whose population has started to drop due to a low birthrate and an elderly population, is likely to shrink in the future. As a result, the government is attempting to boost national revenue by boosting the number of international tourists. If the initiative is successful, the government will obtain a considerable share of its national revenue from the tourist sector’s foreign currency. The GDP impacts are forecasted to be ¥1.351 trillion and ¥945 billion, respectively, in Greater Tokyo and Osaka.

Passive Growth in Related Financial Sectors

When a financial sector grows, it is accompanied by the growth of its corresponding sectors. Financial sectors associated with Integrated Resort casinos, IT gadgets, steel, hotels, and facility construction associated with resort development, food, beverage, and power, among others, will grow at the same rate as IRs.

Increase of Employment Opportunities

The larger the project, the larger the workforce will be. The establishment of these Integrated Resorts is expected to provide a considerable number of employment opportunities. Annual employment is estimated to be 102,800 in Greater Tokyo and 77,600 in Osaka.


The lifting of the gambling prohibition and the establishment of Integrated Resorts are widely regarded as watershed moments in the Japanese economy and tourism. It has the potential to be beneficial for both Japanese citizens and visitors in every way if implemented wisely.