TOKYO (Reuters) – Hit by years of economic malaise that have trimmed jobs and budgets, a number of Japanese local governments are touting casinos as a cure.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) reported on Saturday that at least eight localities are studying the idea of building casinos to bring in much-needed jobs and money.
Tokyo, whose nationalist governor Shintaro Ishihara reportedly strongly backs the idea of casinos, is set to pull together a report on the issue, with estimates of the economic benefits, as early as October, the Nikkei said.
Ishihara has also reportedly called on other governors to work together in lobbying the central government in favour of the plan.
For gambling in Japan is tightly controlled and strictly limited to a handful of events such as horse races. Places such as casinos, where money would be the prize, are prohibited.
Although pachinko gaming parlours are ubiquitous and nearly always full, they cannot provide cash prizes directly. Instead, winners get presents or chips they can exchange for cash.
Several local governments have already put out reports that are likely to set eyes gleaming in many a struggling community.
Estimates by a small city in central Aichi prefecture, some 269 km (168 miles) west of Tokyo, show that, based on overseas examples, the construction of three large UFABet casinos with 150 card and roulette tables, and some 2000 slot machines, could pull in more than 30 billion yen a year.
Officials in Kagawa …