Takuto Saito, 24, has never set foot in a casino but he learns the art of roulette at a school of croupiers in Tokyo which has seen the influx of applicants since Japan decided to legalize the casinos.
In the premises, a banner greets this new era which started two years ago. The young man, looking like a teenager, hooded t-shirt and casual pants, takes a seat behind a table covered with a green play mat and whispers the ritual formulas for imaginary guests.
He started a one-year program in April at this establishment, founded in 2004, to train Japanese people in the trade before they leave to work abroad.
The Japan Casino School (JCS), which currently has 100 students, has experienced ups and downs in the wake of political debates. But since the legislative change ending the Japanese exception, registrations have soared. “We are seeing unprecedented momentum, our number of students has doubled since last year,” said director Masayoshi Oiwane, himself a former dealer on a ship.
Among the new recruits, Takuto Saito works hard to master the rules of baccarat, roulette or blackjack. “I like to observe the attitudes of the players” and the atmosphere of tension that is tied around the tables, “he says.
The studious student also learns the codes of the profession, opening his palms under the eyes of fictitious video surveillance cameras to prove that he has hidden nothing in his sleeves.
It was while playing online poker that he came up with the idea of retraining in this sector, enticed by prospects after having chained odd jobs.
“I would like to gain experience elsewhere and return” to Japan once the first casinos open “in order to possibly supervise a team of croupiers,” he explains.
The first casinos will not see the light of day for five or six years
Tuesday, the Chamber of Deputies voted a text fixing the concrete methods of establishment of the casinos.
They will be integrated into leisure complexes, which will also include conference centers, hotels, restaurants, theaters and other places of entertainment, sort of Japanese Las Vegas or Macau.
In an aging Japan with a sluggish economy, the government sees great potential there, hoping to attract business travelers and tourists beyond the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Economists project an annual market of 2,000 to 3,700 billion yen (15 to 28 billion euros), a windfall of which the state and local communities will reap a large share: the revenues of casinos will be taxed up to 30%.
“One of these leisure complexes could create tens of thousands of jobs directly or indirectly, and will certainly have a big impact on the local economy,” said Toru Mihara, professor at the University of Commerce in Osaka.
The time to allocate operating licenses and build the sites, the first casinos will not see the light of day for five or six years, according to experts. Initially, only three establishments will be authorized.