On Tuesday, the Diet's House of Representatives will vote on an LDP-backed bill that proposes to legalize casino gambling in Japan. If it passes, the bill is likely to be rubber-stamped by the House of Councillors and soon become the law of the land.
Once that happens, how long will it take, Nikkan Gendai (Dec 6) wonders, before we see the emergence of "casino homeless"?
"Overseas, gambling addiction has become a serious social problem," explains a source who is familiar with casinos. "In South Korea in 2000, the Kangwon Land casino that was previously only open to foreign visitors was also opened to locals. In the area adjacent to the resort, now pawnshops can be seen all over the place, and several hundred people who had lost everything they had to gambling are said to be living on the streets.
"Four years ago the Macao government moved to raise the minimum age restriction at its casinos from 18 to 21, and casinos in other places have been cracking down as well," he added.
The main concern is that young adults, who have yet to develop an "immunity" to gambling, will be most vulnerable. A research group operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare believes some 5.36 million Japanese have shown susceptibility to gambling addition, and of these some 1.88 million -- roughly 40% -- are in their 20s and 30s.
Which is why concerns have arisen that following the opening of casinos, the numbers of penniless "young homeless" will surge.
"I think the increase in homelessness among young adults is tied to the severe conditions at their workplace, particularly the lack of regular employment," says nonfiction writer Atsuhiko Nakamura. "Many are temp-help staff who can be dropped on short notice by the client, and they are also frequently subjected to power harassment. I've seen many who turned to gambling to relive their stress. And some are hopelessly addicted. Should casinos be legalized and become more accessible, I'll be concerned that more young people will become impoverished as a result of their presence."
The Abe government has trumpeted its efforts at holding down unemployment, but during 2014 for instance, in the age 15 to 24 year-old segment, the ratio of irregular workers to the total number of salaried workers was 30.8%; the figure fell only marginally -- to 28.0% -- for workers in the age 25 to 34-year-old segment.
Following the "Lehman Shock" of 2008, five self-reliance support centers operating in metropolitan Tokyo saw a rapid surge in individuals age 30 and under seeking assistance; about one in four was said to be in the younger age segment. Moreover the number of welfare recipients in their 20s and 30s has roughly tripled over the past 15 years.
Along with elderly pensioners losing their hard-earned nest egg at the roulette and blackjack tables, Nikkan Gendai warns that legalization of casinos is likely to see a rapid increase in homelessness among the younger set.© Japan Today