25 Dec 2019
Tokyo prosecutors arrested a ruling party lawmaker on suspicion of receiving cash from a Chinese company seeking to invest in the casino industry, dealing a blow to unpopular plans to open the country to the gaming industry.
Liberal Democratic Party politician Tsukasa Akimoto, who had served as a vice minister in charge of promoting the establishment of casinos in the country, was arrested Wednesday, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing investigation sources.
The Chinese company, which runs online casinos and is headquartered in the southern city of Shenzhen, is suspected of smuggling several million yen in cash into Japan without declaring it to customs, Kyodo News said, without naming the firm.
“I was not involved in any fraud,” Akimoto said on his Twitter feed before the arrest and has denied any wrongdoing. Tokyo prosecutors have so far declined to comment on the reports.
The nation legalized casino gambling in 2016 to great excitement in the industry, where many have long tried to get a foot in the door in a potential $20 billion gaming market. Companies including MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands Corp. have spent heavily to get access to a gaming market that could become Asia’s second-largest after Macau.
By Jon Herskovitz, Bloomberg, 24 December 2019
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