Japan’s casino school is closing as the nation’s gaming industry loses its luster

Published on: August 27, 2022, 02:11 am.

Last update: 26 August 2022, 06:29.

A prominent casino school in Japan that was founded in response to the nation’s legalization of commercial gambling in 2018 is closing its doors.

Japan Casino Gambling Table Dealer
Students at Japan Casino Academy learn the basics of table games. The Japan Casino Academy is closing after the country’s gambling industry lost its luster over the past few years. (Picture: Asia Gaming Brief)

Japan Casino Academy hoped to enter the country’s gambling industry by training table game dealers. Students received a wide range of training, from shuffling, sizing and cutting decks to a variety of popular games such as baccarat, mini-baccarat, blackjack, poker and roulette.

The school took advantage of this opportunity after Japan’s July 2018 National Diet passed the gambling law. The Law for the Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities was championed by then-Prime Minister Shino Abe. He wanted to make Japan a more tourism-oriented global destination.

The Casino Act authorized up to three Integrated Casino (IR) complexes across the country. Over four years later, Abe is dead after being assassinated. No casinos have opened and no casino plan has yet been approved by the central government.

Although the Japan Casino Academy has trained hundreds of hopeful table game dealers, none have landed a job in Japan. With enrollments down significantly since 2018 — and students expressing frustrations about the quality of programs — Inside Asian Games announced this week that the training center has filed for bankruptcy.

Industrial implosion

When Japan’s ruling party – the Liberal Democratic Party – opted to bring casinos to the country, things looked better. The support came to quell Abe’s desires to generate new tax revenue and jobs.

The world’s major casino operators were all excited about this opportunity. Name a leading casino company and chances are good that the group will strongly consider bidding for one of Japan’s three IR licenses.

Notable companies considering bids included Las Vegas Sands, Caesars Entertainment, Hard Rock International, Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Mohegan Sun, SJM Resorts and Genting Group. But after Sands pulled out amid the pandemic and Japan appeared to drag its feet in establishing its gaming rules and regulations, a chain reaction ensued.

Not only have other casino companies decided to leave Japan, but so have previously interested prefectures and cities. The exodus resulted in only two prefectures remaining in the race: Osaka and Nagasaki.

MGM Resorts and Osaka are moving forward with a multibillion-dollar casino that could cost up to $9 billion, while Nagasaki has partnered with Casinos Austria for a $3.2 billion IR.

Lost bet for students

For many students who won the Japan Casino Academy scholarship, their time and money was a wasted gamble.

Japan Casino Academy didn’t come cheap for those who signed up. The premium course, which included all board games and basic training, cost Y1.5 million ($11,000). IAG says the academy reported annual sales of about JPY 120 million ($880,000) before business slowed and classrooms emptied.

Japan’s casino industry is still many years away. Casinos Austria hopes to have its Nagasaki IR ready by 2028. MGM does not expect its Osaka development to open until 2029.

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