Real money poker in Japan is set to become a reality once the country’s first integrated resorts open their doors to paying customers.

Japan to Allow Poker at Future Casino Resorts after Successful WPT Event

Poker dealers like those at Caesars Palace will keep things fair as the Japanese government lifts its ban on real money games. (Image: Julie Jacobson/Chicago Tribune/AP)

When the Japanese government first passed legislation that would allow two new casino complexes to be built, poker wasn’t going to be one of the permitted games. But following a review of its popularity and the ways it can be controlled, the decision-makers have changed their minds.

Dealers to Keep Game Fair

Local news outlet The Mainichi was one of the first to report the government’s U-turn. According to sources on the ground, officials are now happy that poker will be fair as long as professional dealers are used.

In changing the law and permitting casino resorts to be built in select locations, the government only sanctioned games with a high degree of chance.

By allowing games played between a customer and the house, officials wanted to minimize the type of collusion that can occur in player vs. player games.

Although this type of cheating is possible in poker, a review has concluded that trained dealers will be capable of protecting the integrity of the games. As well the issue of fairness, the government has also seen the potential pulling power poker can have.

WPT Makes Impressive Showing

Casinos in Las Vegas and Macau have embraced poker over the last two decades, with many resorts now attracting tourists and high rollers with cash games and tournaments. What’s more, the recent World Poker Tour event in Japan proved that players are willing to travel in order to play.

By awarding the top finishers “tournament tickets” in lieu of real money, the WPT was able to avoid Japan’s current anti-gambling laws. The end result was that 460 players from home and abroad anted up for the November tournament last year at Bane Bagus in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

Seeing the success of this event and those like it around the world, ministers are satisfied that poker has enough of a following to help the country’s integrated resorts flourish.

When the first casinos eventually open their doors, experts predict the industry will be worth about $2 billion per year. For the owners, it will now be up to their discretion whether or not they want to offer poker and potentially capture a larger portion of this expected revenue.