When party or stag destinations are thought of, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Las Vegas or Prague, the most recent favorite, is typically mentioned due to comparably low booze prices as well as having vibrant, flashy casinos. However, Japan is hardly ever one of those destinations.
Could this all be set to change? A bill was passed in July 2018 which made the operation of casinos legal. Gambling in Japan has been all but illegal since the early 20th century (if you’re interested in the details you can learn more here). The majority of people interested in gambling only able to play on pachinko machines, bet on the national lottery and bet on public sports. The changes are going to be brought on by the construction of three integrated resorts which will each be built in different cities in Japan. There is currently a bid for which cities the integrated resorts will be built in however the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a delay in the process of construction more than once.
The biggest question that arises from this development is; will this create an increase in the existing nightlife in Japan and will it potentially be a destination for partygoers?
What Exactly Is Going To Change?
The most likely candidates for the integrated resorts at the current time are the cities of Osaka, Yokohama and Nagasaki, with the prefectures of Wakayama and Hokkaido also having expressed interest. This has all come to fruition as Japanese leaders had hoped to increase the number of international tourists by 67% by 2020. These resorts will include a hotel with a casino, luxury retail, fine dining, entertainment shows and potential theme parks. The development has not come without difficulties though as some backers have been left uncertain in the wake of COVID-19, with Las Vegas Sands abruptly withdrawing from the process to secure one of Japan’s integrated resort licenses. MGM recently decided to only take a minority role, claiming a 40-45% stake. Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, said that despite delays, the construction of these resorts will continue as planned as they will have international exhibition facilities, convention facilities, and large hotels to entertain whole families.
Why this is a huge deal for Japan
In 1907 gambling was made illegal in Japan due to chapter 23 of the Criminal Code, although this does not mean that all forms of gambling are illegal. The national lottery has had an interesting history. It too was not an ongoing legal activity until the Japan Lottery Association was established in 1964 and is strictly regulated. The most common form of gambling in Japan is pachinko machines, which is played by 7.5% of the population and makes an estimate of $200 billion per year. In less than 10 years, Japan has seen an increase of 22.9 million in the number of tourists the country receives. This makes it the third most visited country in the Asia-Pacific region, more popular than Malaysia and Macau, of which both countries have casinos. Macau reached an all-time high of 36.2 million tourists in 2019 with Las Vegas attracting 49.5 million. The introduction of the integrated resorts in Japan could be a huge deal for the country. Japan has already received around 30 million tourists over the last few years, the potential presence of integrated resorts could significantly boost that number.
Will this make Japan the nightlife destination of Asia
The introduction of integrated resorts could significantly impact not only the economy of Japan, but nightlife as well. The country already has a very vibrant and diverse nightlife scene with hundreds of hostess clubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs in cities such as Tokyo. Tourists who don’t want alcohol included in their activities could also visit the many karaoke and bowling venues as well as gaming arcades. Osaka is another city with a very active nightlife although mainly centered around bars, nightclubs and pubs. These resorts could highlight a void in the market that some cities have which many new businesses such as hotels and entertainment venues could fill, by opening around the integrated resorts to accommodate the potential influx of tourists. The Prime Minster said that these resorts will cause Japan to become a greater attraction for international tourists and bring in a larger segment of travelers that will help the country’s economy expand.