epresentatives of the American Gaming Association (AGA), academic experts and executives from major US casino operators such as Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts attended the briefing in Tokyo, part of a campaign to promote the expertise of America’s casino operators in Japan.
Casino operators have repeatedly stressed that facilities that ban Japanese people from entering would be far less attractive as investments. They argue that the incidence of problem gambling is actually reduced by the establishment of integrated resorts.
This message, which is backed up by academic research and the evidence of Singapore, has either not been heard by the political opponents of casinos, or has failed to convince them.
This is where the AGA comes in. “It can be hard operating in a vacuum”, said Sara Rayme, senior vice president of public affairs for AGA. “We are not advocating any specific action, just providing information and acting as a resource.”
AGA hosted a dinner in Washington for Japanese Diet members in April, during the state visit of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the United States.
“It was an opportunity for them to meet the operators and share information,” said Rayme.
Today’s Tokyo forum was a rematch on Japanese soil.
“The Japanese Diet members are asking the right questions,” said Rayme. “They want to know about social and economic factors, market saturation, all the right things.”
Geoff Freeman, AGA’s CEO, told reporters: “Regarding concerns about social costs such as addiction and crime – what we have seen in the US is that the fears have been overblown and the benefits have won the day.”