The Gambling Law Review: Japan


On 27 July 2018, the Japanese Diet passed the Act for Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas (the Act), which legalises gambling to be operated by licensed private entities in certain designated locations within Japan.

The passage of the Act has garnered strong interest domestically and internationally, as it allows the licensed private entities to operate a ‘Complex Tourist Facilities Area.’, more commonly referred to as an ‘Integrated Resort’ (IR), which by definition under the Act shall include a casino (Article 2 of the Act).

While there is no IR established or casino licence issued at the time of writing, the process is currently underway for the establishment of the first IR/casino in Japan.

Below are some of the key features that should be of interest to those who are considering entering. into the Japanese casino market, and also a brief guidance on which types of business would require licensing or certification.

What sort of policies and agreements are necessary for the implementation of an IR and the effective date regarding the various portions of the Act.

Legal and regulatory framework

Under the current Japanese legislation, gambling, in general, is prohibited under Article 185 of the Penal Code, with the exception of betting on something for momentary 메리트카지노 amusement or specific events or sports permitted under special laws, which are:

the four public sports – horse racing, bicycle racing, powerboat racing and motorcycle racing – all of which are run by local governments or government corporations;
the public lottery; and
Japanese Football Pools.

Licences are required to operate these forms of gambling activities, which under the current legislation, are granted only to local governments or government-related entities.

In this context, Article 185 of the Penal Code provides that a person who gambles shall be punished by a fine or a petty fine of not more than ¥500,000. Unless the item that is placed on the bet is that of momentary amusement. The term ‘gamble’ is understood as ‘an act where more than two persons bet on an outcome. of a contest of chance to contend for a prize in the form. of property or asset’.3

The ‘outcome of a contest of chance’ means an outcome that is something unpredictable. or out of the contestants’ control. The Old Supreme Court case of 13 November 1911 found that if the outcome of a contest depends upon an element of chance to any degree, the outcome shall fall under. the ‘outcome of a contest 안전한카지노사이트 of chance’, even if such outcome depends on certain skills of the contestants (except when the outcome is evident in advance on the basis of any gap between the contestants’ skills).

Accordingly, Japanese court precedents have found that the outcomes of games of ‘igo’,4. mah-jong5 and Japanese chess (shogi)6 all fall under the category of ‘outcome of a contest of chance’.

To ‘bet to contend for a prize in the form of property or asset’ means the winner wins and the loser. Loses a prize in the form of property or asset. If one of the contestants does not lose any property, that is, he or she has no risk of losing his or her property, the contestants are not contending for a prize in the form of property or asset.7

Article 186, Section 2 of the Penal Code further prescribes that a person who, for the purpose of profit, runs a place for gambling or organises a group of habitual gamblers shall be punished by imprisonment not less than three months but not more than five years. The term ‘running a place for gambling’ is understood to mean providing, as a host, a certain place for gambling that is under the host’s control.8 In this context, ‘certain place for gambling’ is understood to mean that a physical location or actual gathering of the players to such location is not required.9

The crime of running a place for gambling also 카지노사이트 requires running a place for gambling and ‘obtaining profit’10 and the term ‘obtain profit’ is understood to mean having the intention of obtaining illegal financial benefit (in the form of fees, commissions or others) in consideration.

The Penal Code has a certain carve-out stating that gambling will not constitute a violation of the Penal Code, if the ‘item which is placed on bet is that of momentary amusement’. This term is understood to be something of very low value that will not unduly stimulate a person’s passion for gambling. The Supreme Court of Japan, however, has found that cash does not, regardless of its amount, fall under the definition of ‘momentary entertainment’.

Thus, gambling that is legally permitted under the current Japanese law is limited to gambling facilitated by licensed public entities, and interpretations of gaming and gambling regulations to date have been generally consistent with this general rule.

The passage of the Act opens the door for gambling facilities to be operated by private entities in Japan, which is the latest development in a long-standing debate on whether to legalise and permit casinos in designated areas of the country.

Offshore gaming services

On 1 November 2013, a deliberation concerning the legality of online gambling was conducted in the Japanese Diet and, upon such deliberation.

The government presented its view concerning online gambling, which is that participating in online gambling operated outside Japan through the internet from Japan.

(or participating in casinos outside Japan airing live through the internet from Japan) will constitute gambling in Japan if a part of such gambling was conducted within Japan.

Such as participating through the internet from one’s home in Japan (i.e., the person in Japan was not physically present at the gambling house overseas).

Cases as of 2016

Accordingly, in 2016, there was a case where several players located in Japan who were playing an online gambling game distributed by an offshore online gaming service provider through a server located outside of Japan were convicted of illegal gambling.

In this case, it was reported that the relevant gambling website had descriptions written in Japanese since September 2014 and was open from early evening to after midnight Japan time and, in addition to that, the dealer was Japanese and the users were able to talk with the dealer in Japanese.

It is considered that these factors formed the grounds for the website to be considered as providing services that were targeted at Japanese people. It should be noted, however, that this case was dealt with under summary proceedings, which are not a formal trial at a summary court.

A trial in these proceedings takes place only with an examination of documents submitted (no public trial including witness examination takes place) while parties are not present.

Therefore, it is unclear whether the court would come to the same conclusion in a formal trial. Also, to the best of our knowledge, no action was taken against an overseas operator.

Current status of the legalisation of casinos in Japan

In light of the general prohibition on gambling, official discussions on whether to legalise casinos in Japan have been taking place for some time now, dating back to 2006 when the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) produced a report entitled ‘Japan’s Basic Policy concerning the Introduction of Casino Entertainment’.

These discussions have continued since then, and in 2013, the LDP and certain other members of a cross-party group called the ‘Alliance for the Promotion of International Tourism’ (the Alliance), including as its members Shinzo Abe, the current Japanese Prime Minister, and Taro Aso.

The current Treasurer and former Prime Minister, submitted the bill to legalise casinos to the Japanese Diet, which was subsequently passed at the Japanese Diet session on 15 December 2016.

Further Discussion

Subsequently, on 27 July 2018 the Japanese Diet passed the Act, which legalised gambling to be operated by licensed private entities in certain designated locations within Japan.

In this Chapter, some of the issues are just presented without further analysis because the IR Development Act delegates, to a substantial extent, detailed provisions to Cabinet Order, Order of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Casino Administration Committee’s rules, and at present, it has not been made clear how the Act is to be operated in practice.