Japan fights gambling addiction ahead of casino openings

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Japan’s cabinet last month approved a plan to limit customers’ access and ban the installation of cash machines at betting establishments, as the government attempts to curtail problem gambling ahead of the opening of a number of casinos, reports Kyodo News.

Prefectures nationwide will formulate their own efforts based on the government’s plan, with authorities required to take action under the basic law on measures against addiction enacted in October.

“We will create a healthy society by implementing thorough measures based on the basic plan in order to prevent people from finding themselves in difficult situations,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during a government meeting.

Japan hopes to see casinos established in up to three locations as part of “integrated resorts,” comprising hotels, conference facilities and shopping areas by the mid-2020s as it seeks to attract foreign tourists and boost regional economies.

Under the basic plan covering three years from fiscal 2019, operators of slot machine and pachinko parlors and government-operated gambling venues, including horse racing and keirin cycle racing tracks, have been asked to remove cash machines from their facilities.

They have been also asked to research how underage people or problem gamblers can be barred from entering through the use of an ID check system.

The plan requires a warning about gambling addiction to be placed in advertisements, including those in newspapers, magazines and TV commercials. It also puts a restriction on the value of online bets that can be placed on horse races and other events.

It calls for consultation and treatment hubs to be set up in each of the country’s 47 prefectures and in 20 major cities, with enhanced support to be extended to private organizations that host recovery programs for gambling addiction.

Japan ended its ban on casino gambling when it enacted the integrated resorts promotion law last July amid stiff resistance from opposition parties and widespread public wariness about the impact of increased access to gambling.

Japan looks to fight gambling addiction ahead of casino openings


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