Japan has a very long and very complicated history with gambling. I won’t get into it here in the interest of time, but suffice to say, for the longest time the land of the rising sun has been extremely conservative when it comes to betting money on games and expecting to get money back. Keep in mind that casino-like activities have existed in the country for years, such as the famous Pachinko machine scheme (which involves people betting money on Pachinko machines, getting some kind of prize from them and then exchanging said prize for money at an unrelated establishment), which further proves that many Japanese people REALLY want to gamble, but alas, the government was an immovable object… Until recently. Believe it or not, just a few months ago a legislation finally legalized casinos in Japan, making it completely legal for people to run and operate land-based casinos as long as they’re properly certified and inspected by the government (which is the case in many countries, the UK included).
Now, you might be wondering: Why did Japan’s government suddenly have a change of heart, anyway? Did they elect a known gambler as prime minister? Did they lose a war and need to reinstate gambling as part of their reparations? Did an anime demon change reality before being slain by a group of archetypal high school kids who were then unable to repair the damage? Nope! The answer is as simple as it’s always been – money. Money, money, money. Most people have no idea just how much money the gambling industry makes per year, and why it still considers to be one of the leading markets even ahead of Hollywood. Experts estimate that now that Japan has legalized gambling, if it only opens 3 (THREE!) casinos in the entirety of the country, it’s looking at revenues of $10 billion annually (and we’re talking net profit here). To put that in perspective, $10 billion is 0.2% of Japan’s gross domestic product. That’s a lot of money, especially for an emerging market. The numbers are even bigger for the casino market in the UK, so naturally, the UK government is doing the smart thing and, uh… Trying to shun its development in any way it can?
Yep, as I’ve reported in the past, the UK government continuously tries to undermine the casino industry in various idiotic ways, such as banning their ads from showing or refusing to pass a simple legislation to allow for skill-based games to be installed in casinos. It’s all incredibly petty, and it almost looks like it’s being done out of spite rather than for any particular reason. Now, don’t get me wrong – gambling addiction, and especially its escalation in frequency, has been a huge problem in the country. But demonizing gambling in general because a small minority of people suffer from it is idiotic! It’s like banning peanuts because some people are deathly allergic to them! I do absolutely agree that certain measures need to be taken to curb gambling addiction (for example, after you’ve bet a certain amount or have spent a certain amount of time in an online casino, a prompt should pop up saying “Hey, you’ve played for an X amount of time, maybe it’s time to take a break”), but demonizing the gambling industry in general is only going to end badly. Because you know what happens when you start treating one of the most successful industries of your country like crap? It stops being successful, and everyone suffers because of it. Here’s hoping the UK can learn from Japan.