A snap general election in Japan would “all but guarantee” that enabling legislation for a Japanese casino industry – commonly referred to as the IR (Integrated Resorts) Implementation Bill – would not be passed by the country’s parliament this year, says Grant Govertsen, an analyst at brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd.
On Sunday news agencies Reuters and Bloomberg News respectively reported that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might call an early election in the coming weeks.
Mr Govertsen told GGRAsia that, regardless of whether that happened, Japan’s parliament was unlikely to see the IR Implementation Bill bill tabled before legislators tackled a bill concerning problem gaming.
“We therefore expect the IR bill to be dealt with in 2018, which, in theory, might have a cleaner (more simple) legislative slate,” Mr Govertsen wrote in his email to us.
Reuters quoted anonymous sources as saying that Mr Abe told his colleagues in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito of his intention to dissolve the lower house of the Japanese parliament after the 2017 extraordinary session due to start on September 28.
Mr Govertsen suggested a prolonged legislative process could actually result in better-quality legislation.
“As contemplated today, the IR bill seems to be heading down a track of being far too restrictive. A longer-dated passage of the IR bill could allow the industry and the legislature, via the expert panel, to draft a more appropriate IR Implementation Bill that can be a win-win for all [interested] parties,” Mr Govertsen said.
The analyst had previously warned that the drafted regulatory framework of integrated resorts in Japan was “[becoming] more restrictive by the day”, which could dissuade some bigger operators from joining the race for a Japan casino licence.
Several recent opinion polls in Japan have suggested support for Mr Abe’s party and his personal approval rating had improved after suffering some decline, Reuters’ Sunday report said. As things currently stand, Japan is not due for a general election until late in 2018.
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"We’re going to know probably in the next three or four months what the timing is going to be for Osaka"
Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International