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Japan IRs well placed to handle potential security threats

The establishment of IRs will bring with them a host of new security challenges, but according to James Stern, senior vice-president for corporate security at Wynn Resorts, Japan is more than capable of facing them.

Stern has a unique profile. Ethnically he is half-Japanese, and before joining Wynn Resorts he was an FBI agent who dealt with Japanese organized crime, among other issues. He even spent some time working within the National Police Agency headquarters on an exchange program.

In an exclusive interview with Asia Gaming Brief, Stern predicted, “the biggest security issues are going to be related to organized crime.”

Still, he observed that in recent years the Japanese police seem to have gotten a much stronger handle on the gangsters as compared to, for example, the situation in the 1980s or 1990s. “It’s a different Japan now compared to when I was in the FBI,” he says.

Stern believes that the Japanese police will prove up to the task: “They are top notch on organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering, etc. They are very, very proficient in their investigations.”

While he doesn’t deny that some money laundering at a petty level could potentially slip through the net, it is unlikely to develop into “a flow of cash without scrutiny” before the authorities catch on.

Stern expects that whichever IR operators win licenses in the country, they will each need “a very professional and experienced security director who has command and control presence.”

The security directors will oversee two separate surveillance teams for the casinos. One team monitors the games looking for cheaters and similar issues, while the other watches entrances and exits, the parking lot, the elevators, and the guests through dozens, if not hundreds, of cameras, with physical security in mind.

Money laundering, acts of violence, and theft are the usual items of concern for IRs, but Stern suspects that Japan’s security challenges will in fact prove to be less acute than in many other countries.

“Compared to the United States, Japan is extremely safe,” he observes.


Asia Gaming Brief is a news and intelligence service providing up to date market information for worldwide executives on relevant gaming issues in Asia.

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