Japan’s casino industry has been plagued by a number of delays, controversy and scandal since gaming was approved in 2016. It’s been a long road since then. Originally casino licenses were supposed to be approved in 2019 in the hopes that the first integrated resort casinos would be up and running by 2021.
But things haven’t worked out as expected.
Issues Plaguing the Industry
Earlier this month, the country’s gaming commission announced that they were delaying the approval of licenses until January 2021 – which means new casinos are unlikely to open until 2024.
Then last week, it was announced that law enforcement were investigating Tsukasa Akimoto, a member of the lower house of Japan’s parliament directly involved with policy making in the new casino market, for corruption and illegal activity. According to information released at the time, “Akimoto was directly involved with casino policy until October 2018. Around the same time, Akimoto was seen dining with Chinese businessmen and local authorities from the city of Hokkaido – one of the places originally asking for a license.”
It All Comes Down to This
After just a week of investigations, the police has arrested Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politician Tsukasa Akimoto on suspicion of receiving bribes of about USD33000 in the form of cash, stays in hotel room suites and flights. Although it hasn’t been made public what exactly Akimoto did – or was supposed to do– in exchange, there’s been certains suspicions from the beginning.
In particular, authorities suspect Akimoto was accepting bribes from a Chinese firm looking to obtain one of the licenses. The firm runs online casinos and has been interested in opening a brick-and-mortar casino in Japan, but the competition for licenses is tight.
Akimoto had tweeted a few days ago that he wasn’t guilty of anything, but the authorities seem to be sure enough to proceed with an arrest.
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