Japan is looking to position itself as a leader in the global tourism business, and it was hoping to achieve this through casino resorts.
However, the plans have suffered a series of major blows that look to set back plans until the mid 2020s.
The latest blow to the plans is the resignation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was a major driving force behind the plans.
A Plan Besieged with Problems
Until the end of 2019, Japan’s plans to create casino resorts and regulations to accompany them were going smoothly.
Unfortunately, in December 2019, Tsukasa Akimoto, a state minister in charge of the casino development, was caught up in a huge bribery scandal.
As soon as this scandal was dealt with, COVID-19 rolled into town, shutting down discussions and government sessions.
Now, Japan’s longest-serving leader, Shinzo Abe’s resignation is presenting itself as another major setback for the plans.
Abe was a huge proponent of the plans and was a major driving force behind them. Fears are that without Abe at the helm these plans could drag on for many years to come, delaying Japan’s advancement in the global tourism industry.
Prefectures Postponing Plans Already
Only a few days have passed since Abe announced he would be stepping down due to ongoing health issues, but already a number of prefectures have spoken out stating that they will be pausing casino plans.
The Osaka prefecture has said that it will postpone until after the 2025 World Expo that it’s hosting.
Meanwhile Yokohama, Wakayama and Nagasaki prefectural governments have also said that there will be delays in their plans and postponements.
What knock-on impact these delays will have is yet to be seen, but it appears as if contractors hadn’t been drafted in at this stage, so it’s more likely simply a time delay.
A Potential Boost to the Economy
China has recently begun cracking down on casinos in Macau, crippling its VIP packages and casinos.
On top of this, COVID-19 has caused major Macau casinos to report losses topping 90% in the past 4 months.
Unlike Las Vegas casinos which largely shifted to online models during the COVID-19 closure, Macau casinos simply remained closed, missing out on major revenue potential.
These are all worrying signs as Macau is largely seen as the casino center of Asia.
If Japan can get its casino resorts up and running by the time COVID-19 clears off and global travel resumes, it could cash in on a lot of players that are not willing to return to Macau.
This could be a huge deal for Japan and its already blossoming economy if it can pull it off.
But for now, it needs to balance itself following the resignation of Abe and focus on pushing through these casino resort plans.
If the Japanese can do a good job, we could see high rollers and VIPs switching up their usual Macau stomping grounds for a new experience in Japan.
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