Members of Japan’s main opposition parties have agreed to submit jointly a bill seeking to abolish the Integrated Resorts (IR) Promotion Act, an enabling bill passed in 2016 that legalised casino resorts in that country. The new bill is to be submitted on January 20, when the ordinary session of the country’s parliament (pictured) is scheduled to start, reported local media outlets on Wednesday.
Japan’s governing coalition controls a majority in both houses of Japan’s parliament, and therefore the opposition move has little chance of success, according to industry observers. The initiative comes on the heels of the emerging casino bribery scandal, which includes allegations against lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto over claims of casino lobbying by Chinese online gaming firm 500.com Ltd.
Aside from Mr Akimoto, five other House of Representatives members have been questioned by Japanese authorities – on a voluntary basis – for their alleged receipt of cash. One of the lawmakers, Mikio Shimoji, admitted on Monday that his office had accepted and not declared to the authorities JPY1 million (US$9,227) from an advisor linked to the Chinese firm.
Despite the scandal, Japan’s national government has vowed to press ahead with the integrated resort-related tasks as scheduled, stated on Monday Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, in a televised brief.
Japan’s casino management commission was formally set up on Tuesday in line with a previously-announced timetable. The first meeting of the body is scheduled for Friday.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reiterated on Tuesday that the national government was expected to announce the final version of its “basic policy” on the IR topic before the end of January.
Local governments that pass the basic threshold for hosting a casino resort – namely being either a prefecture or so-called ordinance-level city – need first to find a private-sector partner or consortium of partners, then apply to the national authorities for permission to develop one. A maximum of three resorts will be permitted in a first round of liberalisation.
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