Japanese Government to Set Rules on Contact between Public Servants and Casino Resort Operators

The government has revised a draft of its basic policy on so-called integrated resort projects to include rules on contact between public officials and casino resort operators to prevent fraud.

The draft also includes a postponement to the targeted launch of such resorts from the mid-2020s to the late 20s due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, among other factors.

The revised draft was approved Wednesday at a joint meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party’s policy divisions, including the land, infrastructure, transport and tourism division. The government will formally decide on the basic policy by the end of this month and will ask local governments that are bidding to host casino resorts to submit development plans by April 2022.

The new rules on contact are in response to a corruption scandal linked to a resort project in which a lawmaker was arrested and indicted.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, the casino supervision commission, prefectural governments and other government entities that plan to bid for such projects are required to set conditions on contact to ensure transparency and fairness.

They must, in principle, have meetings with resort operators and casino-related equipment manufacturers in a government office building and ensure that more than one public official is present; avoid any action that would give a particular company an unfair advantage or disadvantage; and make a record of the meeting and keep it for a certain period of time, among other conditions.

The revised draft also stipulates that relevant parties should take thorough measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when developing casino resorts and the need for measures to prevent gambling addiction.

Although the government released a draft of its basic policy in September 2019, the overall schedule, including the decision on the policy, has been delayed due to the pandemic. The application deadline for the development plan of casino resorts has been postponed by nine months from July 30, 2021, to April 2022.