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Japan: Basic Act on Countermeasures Against Gambling Addiction Enacted

(Sept. 13, 2018) The Basic Act on Countermeasures Against Gambling Addiction was enacted in Japan in July 2018. (Basic Act, Act No. 74 of 2018, KANPOU [OFFICIAL GAZETTE] Extra ed. No. 154 (July 13, 2018), National Printing Bureau website (in Japanese).) The Basic Act will become effective by mid-October 2018. (Id. Supp. Provisions art. 1.)

The Basic Act defined gambling addiction as a condition in which a person’s obsessive gambling hinders him or her from engaging in normal everyday life or having a normal social life. (Basic Act art. 2.) Under the Basic Act, the national government must establish the Basic Plan on Promotion of Countermeasures Against Gambling Addiction. (Id. art. 12.) Prefecture governments must establish their own plans for countermeasures against gambling addiction in line with the Basic Plan. (Id. art. 13.)  Further, the national and local governments must adopt measures to educate people about gambling addiction in various settings, such as schools and work places (id. art. 14) and take steps to establish specialized medical institutions, mental health counseling, and legal counseling for gambling addicts in localities (id. arts. 16 & 17).

Background

The enactment of the Basic Act corresponds to the resolution of the House of Councillors that was adopted when the House passed the Act on Promoting the Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas in December 2016. (Integrated Resort Promotion Act, Act No. 115 of 2016, Ministry of Justice’s Japanese Law Translation website; Resolution Attached to the Bill of the Integrated Resort Promotion Act, Dec. 13, 2016, House of Councillors website.) The Resolution called for the enhancement of countermeasures against gambling addiction. The Integrated Resort Promotion Act had defined the term “complex tourist facilities” as “facilities integrating casino facilities, convention and conference facilities, recreation facilities, exhibition facilities, accommodation facilities and other facilities.” (Integrated Resort Promotion Act art. 2.) Establishing casinos is illegal in Japan unless specific legislation to allow them is enacted. (Ministry of Justice Criminal Affairs Bureau, Material Provided by Ministry of Justice for 8th Conference on Promotion of Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas, Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet website (July 18, 2017) (in Japanese).) Thus, opponents of the Integrated Resort Promotion Act had labeled it the “Lifting the Ban on Casinos Act.” (Keep Fighting Against Gambling Halls, AKAHATA (Dec. 16, 2016) (in Japanese).)