Pennsylvania Gaming Board Extends Support to Assist Japan in Developing Casino Regulations

Japan’s Casino Regulatory Commission Learns from Pennsylvania and Nevada

Posted on: September 15, 2023, 12:56h

Last updated on: September 15, 2023, 12:56h

Gaming regulators in both Pennsylvania and Nevada recently agreed to meet with a delegation from Japan that’s responsible for licensing and governing the country’s forthcoming casinos.

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Japan casinos
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board met with a delegation from Japan this week that’s seeking to learn about regulating gaming. The Japan Casino Regulatory Commission previously met with gaming regulators in Nevada. (Image: Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board)

Japan’s National Diet, the legislature of the central government in Tokyo, passed a bill known as the “Integrated Resort Development Act” in 2018. The legislation came as a result of then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wishes to diversify Japan’s economy through tourism.

Abe, who was assassinated last year, led the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). His party colleagues in the Diet adhered to his casino call. The casino law allows for up to three integrated casino resorts in the Land of the Rising Sun.

More than five years since the casinos were authorized, only one development has been approved. MGM Resorts and Japanese financial conglomerate Orix Corporation are leading a consortium that’s been cleared to move forward with a multibillion-dollar project called MGM Osaka.

MGM Osaka isn’t expected to open until at least 2030, as the property is being built on reclaimed land in Osaka Bay. The labor-intensive build includes approximately 5.3 million square feet of indoor space set on more than 100 acres.

Only one other prefecture remains interested in a casino. Nagasaki and Casinos Austria have suggested building a casino at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, but funding concerns have held up licensing approval.

Suitability in Focus

Japan’s Casino Regulatory Commission is tasked with licensing the three casinos and then governing each property’s operations. Since casino gaming is new to Japan, the commission is learning on the job.

The five-person commission, chaired by Michio Kitamura, has turned to the US to educate the body about best practices. The commission is being assisted by a staff numbering more than 170 strong.

The Casino Regulatory Commission last month arrived in the US by way of Nevada where the delegation met with the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The commission this week spent time in Harrisburg where the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board helped educate the Japanese officials about gaming governance.

Speaking with, PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole said the delegation was most interested in how the state performs suitability and background checks on companies, key executives, and entity shareholders.

They are exceptionally diligent individuals,” O’Toole told “They’re very focused on learning as much as they can. Their primary focus was best practices for conducting background investigations.”

The Japanese officials are certainly receiving sound advice on best practices, as Nevada and Pennsylvania are respectively the two richest gaming states in the US. Nevada gaming revenue totaled more than $14.8 billion last year, while gaming in the Keystone State topped $5.21 billion. New Jersey was a close third.

Operational Governance

O’Toole said the two days of conferences with the Japan Casino Regulatory Commission primarily dealt with suitability and background probes, but the delegation also made inquiries into how the PGCB oversees gaming operations.

Pennsylvania has one of the most comprehensive gaming industries not only in the US but the entire world. Along with 18 brick-and-mortar casinos, the state is home to regulated iGaming, retail and online sports betting, video gaming terminals inside truck stops, and daily fantasy sports.

O’Toole revealed that the talks also covered gaming operations and what sort of regulations and safeguards Japan might implement once the casino(s) open.

O’Toole concluded by saying the PGCB was pleased to “pay it forward” regarding helping a new gaming jurisdiction learn about regulation. O’Toole said it’s something Pennsylvania regulators more than 17 years ago received from older US gaming states like Nevada and New Jersey.

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