In terms of retail and consumer trends, it is always interesting to keep an eye on Japan. While there are a lot of things that are unique about this extraordinary country, from a consumer perspective they tend to be at the forefront of emerging trends and developments.
This is why it is interesting to see reports about a new demographic being targeted by Japan’s growing casino industry.
Las Vegas daycare
There is a new style of casino being rapidly opened in suburbs across Japan. In many respects these new establishments are exactly like the traditional image of casinos that we are all used to – slot machines, gaming tables, card games, and gambling chips. The difference however is the demographic of who is there playing these games – the average age of the casino patrons is around 80 years old.
Japan has a rapidly ageing population and the government offers substantial subsidies for daycare for elderly people. Japan’s casino entrepreneurs are putting two-and-two together and offering a casino style environment that doubles as day care for elderly people.
One of the challenges that Japan’s government faces is that the country’s ageing population means a shrinking workforce, thereby reducing the overall productivity of the economy. Japan’s already shrinking labour market is further impacted by those people who have to leave work in order to care for elderly or frail relatives. Current estimates indicate that around 100,000 people each year leave the workforce to care for relatives – the government wants to reduce that number to zero.
Making day care attractive
One of big challenges about making day care an attractive option for elderly people, and thereby freeing up their relatives to stay active members of the workforce, is that the day care available needs to be appealing. Casino games are fun and the casino environment is also quite social – a lot more appealing than sitting at home alone.
Keeping it legal
One of the complications of the rise in casino-based day care in Japan is that casino gambling is technically illegal in Japan. Casino operators are getting around this by using a faux currency.
One of the ways that the casino day care patrons can earn the faux currency that they need to place bets is through warm-up exercise routines. Health monitoring and maintenance plays a big role in most of the casino day care operations, with blood pressure and temperature of patrons checked each day as they visit the casino.
Casino day care facilities are particularly successful at attracting men to attend. Most standard adult day care operations have a user base that is 70 per cent female, however casino based adult day care operations are reporting that at least 60-75 per cent of their users are male.
It’s now estimated that there are at least 40,000 adult day-care facilities in Japan. If they play their cards right then a lot more of these could be transformed into casino day care facilities.