Japan Introduces New System That Allows Family to Block Online Gamblers

Staff Writer Industry News 1,662

Japanese gambling authorities lead way in innovative thinking as they look to tackle the growing problem gambling issue.

The Japan Racing Association is introducing a new measure that will allow families of gambling addicts to block them from placing horse-racing bets online.

Gambling Addicts

According to the government survey of 4,685 people released in September, it is estimated that 3.2 million Japanese suffer from gambling addiction. The survey said that 0.8 percent of the population aged between 20 and 74 were likely addicted at some point in the past year with the average age being 46.5. The amount of $511.97 was the average sum spent on gambling per month.

Executives in JRA said that revenue from online betting accounted for roughly 60% of its approximately $22.95 million in annual revenue. Considering that gambling is prohibited in Japan except horse racing and certain motor sports, this devastating data led to these new measures.

The National Association of Racing, which oversees horse races operated by local governments, and JRA, a public company overseen by the agriculture ministry that manages racecourses and training facilities, have already installed a system that allows individuals who apply from their own behalf, to be restricted from online gambling. Fourteen people have already been banned using this system.

The New Measure

Starting Thursday, family members of those diagnosed with gambling disorders or suspected of struggling with its symptoms, can submit applications to JRA. Once accepted, the JRA will suspend them from betting online.

Online gambling restriction will be expanded in April based on applications submitted by family members to motorbike, bicycle and motorboat racing. Similar restrictions are in development for the next fall considering racetracks and off-track betting.

Japan prepares to debate a bill on the structure of integrated resorts that includes casinos so these measures represent government’s efforts to curb gambling addiction. Should the government vote for the bill, resort casinos will open from the first time in hope of boosting tourism and regional economics.

Some American casino operators showed interest in building a resort in Japan like MGM resort International. If they select MGM as a preferred operator, it would be able chose among cities of Hokkaido, Yokohama or Osaka to build the first legal gambling complex in the country.

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