Oftentimes what periods of great crisis do is less to create entirely new trends, but rather to accelerate history, to speed along existing trends much faster than the leisurely evolution that might otherwise have occurred.
A gradual shift from brick & mortar facilities to desktop and mobile devices has already been underway in recent decades, but one likely consequence of the Covid-19 lockdowns—in Japan and across the world—is that the older generations, who have been reluctant to embrace digitization, are now being forced to do so, and this is true of the Asian gambling industry as well.
Putting aside the question of whether or not Japan’s IR development will eventually proceed along the current policy lines or not, developments in the past weeks have made it increasing difficult to believe that the timeline will be maintained as currently planned.
This culminating situation in Japan is shaping up to be a perfect storm to foil Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s going-away party.
Since the passage of the IR Implementation Act in July 2018, the question of whether or not the nation would really move forward with its IR development policy seemed to be definitely settled in the affirmative. However, a series of rather unlikely events in recent months may have reopened the possibility—even if a somewhat remote one—that Japan’s entire pro-IR policy could yet entirely collapse.
At many points in the IR development process it seemed that Osaka’s leaders were running the most masterful campaign to gain one of the three available licenses, but it may now be time for Mayor Ichiro Matsui and Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura to step back, take a breath, and look at the situation with fresh eyes.
As with most of the other major political scandals in the Shinzo Abe era, the final chapter does not seem to conclude with an unraveling of the mysteries, with lessons learned, and then the beginning of reforms, but rather with the investigations grinding to a halt before they reveal the full truth, with logical progressions left hanging, and with the government carrying on as if nothing were amiss.