International casino operators are closely monitoring the latest developments regarding the possible legalisation of casino gaming in Japan. Recent media reports have raised fresh hopes that the so-called Integrated Resorts Promotion Bill might soon be submitted to the Japanese parliament – a body known as the Diet.
“What we are hearing from various people is anywhere from 99 to 100 percent certainty that the bill is going to come up this Diet session,” said Sheldon Adelson (pictured), chairman and chief executive of casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. He was speaking on a call with investment analysts on Thursday, following the company’s third quarter results announcement.
Casino legalisation in Japan will be a two-statute process. After an enabling bill legalising casino resorts at the conceptual level, a second piece of legislation would detail the specifics, including how they are administered and regulated.
The enabling bill – promoted by a cross-party selection of lawmakers – could be submitted for discussion during the extraordinary session of the Diet that runs until late November, according to several international media outlets.
Mr Adelson said Las Vegas Sands would have to examine the details of the latest bill once it is submitted, in order to know where the company stands.
“The original bill – they might have changed it since – called for a one-year period to determine the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ of integrated resort with casino,” he said. “So, we’ve got to see what happens over the next year.”
The executive said Las Vegas Sands is “in touch with Osaka quite frequently”. “We have people there [in Japan] frequently … I’m going again in a month or so,” said Mr Adelson.
“We’ll see what the bill says when it passes … In any event it [the outlook] is very optimistic,” he added.
James Murren, chief executive of Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International, said earlier this week that the company is willing to invest up to US$9.5 billion in Japan if casino gambling is legalised there. Mr Murren said MGM Resorts was mainly interested in a metropolitan area such as Tokyo, Yokohama or Osaka.
Yuriko Koike, the recently-elected governor of Tokyo, said in August she supported the idea of opening a casino venue in the Japanese capital.
Casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd is also “following carefully” the developments in Japan, said on Wednesday the firm’s chairman and chief executive, Steve Wynn.
Speaking on a call with investors following the company’s third-quarter results announcement, Mr Wynn said the bill to legalise casino gambling in Japan seemed to have “more momentum now” than what it had in the past.
“The parties seem to be coalescing behind the idea and there seems to be momentum. I can’t really tell you if it’s going to happen or not, but it does feel like there’s definitely more action in Japan now than there have been in the past six Diet sessions,” added Mr Wynn.
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”Assuming that our [Tigre de Cristal] phase two project and the other future operators’ development plans remain on track, we may see the benefits of a ‘cluster’ effect [in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone] as early as 2021”
Summit Ascent, lead developer of Tigre de Cristal