The difficulties faced by the Japanese government, operators and stakeholders in educating the public on the benefits of integrated resorts were laid bare on Thursday as an off-the-cuff comment by a Japan gaming expert brought a strong rebuke from Aristocrat Managing Director Asia-Pacific, Chris Rowe.
Moderating a panel examining key issues surrounding implementation of Japan’s IR Implementation Bill – which is expected to be passed in mid-2018 – moderator and Chairman of Japan-based consultancy firm Gaming Capital Management, Mike Tanji, stated that slot machines were “made to be addictive” by manufacturers in order to attract players to their product.
Rowe, who first joined Aristocrat in 2004 and took over the region’s top job in September, was quick to interject when asked for comment on an unrelated topic, saying, “I must address one comment that was made in regards to manufacturers trying to make their slot machines addictive.
“The word addiction has never been used in any discussion we’ve ever had about the games we develop – it is never part of the discussion.
“We provide a legitimate entertainment product. Just like when someone goes out to the movies or to see a show, they bring a certain amount of money with them to spend and we try to provide an opportunity for them to get the most out of that spend. To suggest that we try to make our games addictive is not true.”
Educating the Japanese public on the benefits of integrated resorts has been a key priority for stakeholders throughout the IR debate given concerns over the effects of problem gambling, and it seems such preconceived notions about aspects of the industry still prevail if Thursday’s panel is any indication.
A recent Jiji Press poll of Japanese citizens found that around 67% of respondents opposed the building of a casino in their city. The Japanese government has been actively looking to address public concerns and held a series of nine public hearings around the country to explain its Integrated Resort policies in August.