The casino bribery scandal involving 500.com has apparently grown. Just this week, it was announced that another ruling party lawmaker in Japan has admitted to taking money from a sports lottery firm from China looking to enter the casino market of Japan.
According to local news outlets, Takaki Shirasuka is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party who took JPY1 million from 500.com. This is equal to $9,300. The money exchanged hands durign a trip to the corporate headquarters of the operator in Shenzhen, China.
The trip took place in 2017 and Shirasuka went along with Tsukasa Akimoto on the venture, a fellow lawmaker of the Liberal Democratic Party. During the trip, the two men were taken to a Macau casino. The 500.com company covered the expenses of the casino visit as well as the overall trip.
Last year, Akimoto was arrested after being accused of taming bribes to push 500.com’s efforts to win a casino license in Japan. Gambling has been approved for the country and operators are vying for a spot in the young market.
Akimoto denies any wrongdoing and was indicted earlier this year. It was reported that he took money from the operator in 2017 to 2018 to the tune of JPY7.6 million. The lawmaker posted bail and is awaiting trial.
Shirasuka did admit to taking money but he is apparently not going to face any charges, including bribery, like Akimoto. The difference between the two men is that Shirasuka does not have any authority on the selection of operators to obtain licensing. Akimoto does.
Japan is expected to start the bidding process for casino licensing next year. Applications are expected to begin in early January and operators will have through late July to turn in the application. The timeline may change however as the world has recently been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has slowed down almost everything, including business and construction projects.
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