Casino gaming concept brings more discussion

The notion of introducing gambling casinos to Okinawa has been bantered about, discussed and argued about for more than six years, and neither proponents or opponents are willing to budge on their positions.

Opposition to building casinos and casino resorts has centered on negative impacts of gambling, alcoholism and detrimental effects on children, and Board of Education and Parent Teacher Associations continue to press the case against having them. Hundreds of citizens have joined the opposition, although many admit they’ve little real idea what the casinos would actually be like.

Okinawa Prefecture has held yet another community panel discussion on the issue at the Okinawa Convention Center, giving opponents a new chance to express themselves, while also opening the floor to casino advocates. A Kumamoto Prefecture panelist, Sakuragaoka Hospital Director Kenri Akagi, says “Okinawa Prefecture’s Examination Committee has already established rules restricting entry at casinos to adults”, while Professor Ichiro Tanioka of Osaka Commercial University says “Okinawa should believe adults more. People are adults, and they know what they are doing.” The professor added “we don’t think it’s a good idea to make limitations on entry to the games.”

An Okinawa Women’s College professor disagrees. “We think it is important to have limitations on entry,” says Professor Kazuhito Motoyama, “especially for women and children. It’s a political concern.”

Panelists explained casino gaming operations overseas are very advanced, and have procedures and consultants in place to provide assistance to people who develop gambling and alcohol addictions at casinos. They note that the same types of specialists already operate in Japan, and would be able to aid casino operators.

Okinawa Prefecture says it will continue holding public forums to explain the casino concept, until there’s no longer confusion in anyone’s mind.