According to a survey, support for the Japanese government’s move to allow casino resorts in the country has fallen drastically. About 70.6% of respondents felt that the government should rethink their decision in the wake of a bribery scandal involving Japanese politicians and 500.com, a Chinese gaming operator.
Following the revelations, some Japanese lawmakers are planning to introduce a bill opposing the Integrated Resorts Promotion Act (IRPA). IRPA legalized casino resorts in 2016.
The scandal erupted following the arrest of Tsukasa Akimoto, a former member of Prime Minister Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The scandal pertains to the time from August 2017 to October 2018, when Akimoto was in charge of framing government policy on casino resorts.
Investigators allege that during his time in government, Akimoto took $33,800 from 500.com which also paid his airfares and his hotel bills. It is further alleged that Akimoto distributed this money among five Japanese politicians. Investigators believe the money was paid as a bribe for securing a license for a casino resort in Hokkaido Prefecture.
Ultimately, in November, Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki canceled the application for a casino resort there. At the time, he said that he was concerned about the environmental effects of a casino resort project.
The bribery scandal could not have come at a worse time for the casino resort supporters. After Hokkaido, the Governor of Chiba, also canceled his city’s application for a casino gaming license.
Yokohoma city, which is being sought after by all the operators as a prime location for casino resorts, is witnessing protests on the issue.
Moreover, it has been estimated that the cost of erecting a top-class gaming casino in Japan will vary from $10-$15 billion.
Thus, the double whammy of high-costs and not getting a venue of your choice has led to several casino operators having second thoughts about investing in casino resorts in Japan.