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Uruma City eyes casinos as means for tourist yen

Date Posted: 2010-08-26

Introducing casinos to Okinawa’s Uruma City as a means of attracting visitors and increasing revenues is a hot button topic that became even hotter this week as the city’s Junior Chamber of Commerce staged a debate on the issue.

Advocates and opponents verbally spared, with some debate becoming white-hot as they argued their points during the debate at the Uruma City Citizen’s Art Theater. Proponents make the case there’s little available for Uruma City, with its declining population and geographic location, to attract tourists, and thus view inviting casinos to be a logical evolution. “We have to bring tourists to Uruma City, but what can we sell to tourists,” says Eishin Toman, chairman of an association wanting casinos. “We don’t have anything, as we’re located in the middle of Okinawa Island and transportation and other attractions lack convenience. If we provide for tourism infrastructure and casinos,” he adds, “they can promote our town’s economy and make it an attractive city.”

“Not so fast,” caution opponents, who say “No, no, it isn’t good for children.” The naysayers explain they’ve studied Korea and visited its casinos, and maintain Korean people are expressing regrets about bringing casino gambling to that country. “They have told us to not have casinos,” says Sueko Yamauchi, an Okinawa Prefecture Assembly member. “To protect children, we are against bringing casinos,” Yamauchi adds. “Dependence on gambling are increasing, as are suicides and criminal activity.”

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