Japan Brings In Strict Gambling Advertising Regulations

By Alex Smith, Last updated Nov 11, 2022

When gambling was legalized in Japan’s resort casinos last year, it was expected to be the beginning of a number of significant changes in the country. Only two years before, commercial casinos had become legal, and it’s evident that gambling in Japan has taken a while to ‘get going’.
Still, the legalising of resort casinos has proved to be a popular move, and almost all of the world’s biggest global casino groups appear keen to get their hands on one of the potentially lucrative licenses.
Interestingly, it’s estimated that the costs associated with building these resorts could be as much as £7.6 billion – but the annual revenues for each license could potentially bring in equally as much revenue – so it’s no surprise why so many want to get their hands on a license.
However, as we’ve seen in a number of jurisdictions, when gambling regulations are loosened, there tends to be an increase in fears surrounding problem gambling – and Japan is no exception.
Many of those who were against legalization of gambling in the first place have begun calling for better support networks to be brought in for those who are struggling with problem gambling
The announcement of the stricter gambling laws that are due to be brought in my the advertising regulator in Japan coincides with the legislator’s of the country trying to finalize their propositions for distributing the licenses for the new casino resorts.
As part of the new rules, adverts relating to casinos and gambling, will only be allowed at international Japanese airports and seaports. This part of the legislation is set to be passed in March, meaning most operators will likely never get a chance to actually advertise their services to Japanese residents.
This means residents in Japan won’t see any form of TV adverts or online adverts – and this could have an impact on the profitability of certain gambling businesses in Japan.
Of course, this move will please critics around the world – particularly those in the UK, who have been vocal for many months about the supposed harms of gambling adverts.
“We have been saying for a long time now that gambling is being increasingly normalised for children,” the CEO of Gamble Aware, Marc Etches, told The Independent. “They are growing up in a very different world than their parents, one where technology and the internet are ever present.
“So while we welcome this move by betting companies, it is important to pay attention to analysis that shows the marketing spend online is five times the amount spent on television. The fact that it is reported one in eight 11 to 16 year olds are following gambling companies on social media is very concerning.”
Etche’s feelings are shared around the world, with many countries adopting similar stances.
Matt Zarb-Cousin – a spokesperson for ‘Fairer Gambling’ – said that, especially in the UK, significant pressures on operators had forced them into acting, talking about bookmaker’s voluntary agreements to stop advertising gambling on TV during certain times.
“I think the writing is on the wall,” he said. “If they hadn’t done this, the government would have acted anyway, perhaps next year. It is long overdue. There has been a huge amount of pressure on the sector over the volume of advertising which has increased exponentially year on year. But for it to be truly effective, it should also include shirt and league sponsorship and digital advertising around a pitch.
“It is better that there are going to be no ads during live sporting events but that falls some way short of being effective. If the whistle-to-whistle TV advertising ban is justified then the other things are as well. I think it is worth bearing in mind that it is the broadcasters that have been most resistant to the clampdown on advertising.”
The UK government’s Culture secretary – Jeremy Wright – also said the move was a welcome move:
“Gambling firms banning advertising on TV during live sport is a welcome move and I am pleased that the sector is stepping up and responding to public concerns,” Wright said.
“It is vital children and vulnerable people are protected from the threat of gambling related harm. Companies must be socially responsible.”
How Japanese operators will react to the bans will be interesting for those involved in the industry. The country has taken a notorious anti-gambling stance for much of its history, and only recently have the government taken a more liberal stance towards gambling as a whole.
Residents in Japan will likely find the move to be a positive one – but whether we’ll see opposition from operators and other gambling firms wanting to operate in Japan remains to be seen, and we’ll have to wait until March when the rules actually come into force to see what – if any – challenge operators bring.

Alex Smith

Alex is a 26-year-old writer from Brighton, in the UK, and for the past 8 years, he’s worked with a number of companies, creating content for blogs, news articles, and more. While Alex has written on a wide variety of topics, his speciality is online gambling – an industry he’s both passionate about, and experienced in. Having enjoyed gambling for over 7 years, Alex is a huge fan of video slots, and cites NetEnt, Big Time Gaming, Thunderkick, and Quickspin as his favourite providers. The topics he writes on are varied, but he loves nothing more than a good old slot review (he’s written over 1,000 slot reviews in his career), and he also enjoys writing in-depth gambling guides, along with casino reviews. In his spare time, Alex enjoys playing the guitar, and is a self-proclaimed horror film buff.

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