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Japan's Cabinet approves regulations for gambling resorts

[TOKYO] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet approved regulations for gambling resorts, the first of which could open in Osaka as soon as 2024 and provide a new source of tax revenue.

Japan legalized casinos in 2016 and passed another bill in 2018 that laid out a roadmap for gaming. The goal was to have the first casino open by the time Tokyo hosted the 2020 Summer Olympics, but wrangling over regulations and public concern over compulsive gambling has pushed back the plans.

The Japanese plans could open the way for billions of dollars in investment from the likes of MGM Resorts International and Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd. Japan, which already has horse racing and other forms of legalized gambling, is a late entrant into the Asian casino market, with Macau being the region's most powerful center.

By opening casinos, Japan "will seek to become an advanced country for tourism," Abe said at his residence Tuesday.

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The latest Japanese regulations approved Tuesday specify the size of the hotels, conference facilities and exhibition centers that must be part of the gambling resorts. The regulations include the following:

The guest-room area of the hotel must be at least 100,000 square meters (1.1 million square feet)

The minimum size of the convention and exhibition centers will be calculated together, with a larger convention center allowing a smaller exhibition center

The area for the casino must make up no more than 3 percent of the total area of the resort

Gambling resorts will only be allowed to advertise in international airports and cruise ship terminals

Operators will be obliged to report to the government any customers who make transactions of 1 million yen (S$12,270) or more in cash.

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