Tokyo, Japan –Japanese authorities broke into the headquarters of a pachinko operator on Thursday. This move was part of a bribery investigation that a ruling party lawmaker was involved. This growing scandal could put a dent on the government’s efforts to introduce casinos in the country.
The Tokyo-based pachinko operator was under investigation for its possible ties to Tsukasa Akimoto, ruling party lawmaker arrested on Wednesday due to allegations of accepting bribes while overseeing the government’s policy on casino development.
According to local media outlet, NHK, the unnamed pachinko company’s accounts were being scrutinized for any transactions involving Akimoto. In the past, the arrested lawmaker served as a consultant for a firm that had dealings with the pachinko operator.
Pachinko is a slot/pinball form of gambling popular in Japan. It is popular among all age groups although the number of players has decreased over the years, as younger Japanese people prefer to play games on their mobile phones.
Following the high-profile arrest of the ruling party lawmaker, prosecutors have been expanding their investigation to include whether or not he accepted gifts and cash from 500.com, a Chinese gambling operator interested in developing a casino in Japan.
Japan’s top government spokesperson asserted that Akimoto’s arrest would not hinder the government’s plans to develop three casino resorts. But the investigation would most likely raise a lot of questions regarding the bidding process.
Akimoto is accused of accepting roughly 3 million yen ($27,402) in cash and a family holiday sponsored by officials at 500.com’s Japanese subsidiary. The lawmaker, however, has denied any wrongdoing.