The upper house of Japan’s parliament – also known as the Diet – is expected to vote on Wednesday (December 14) a bill to legalise in principle casino gambling in the country, according to media reports. That is after the bill passed through an upper house committee on Tuesday evening, despite protests from opposition parties.
The bill – backed by the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) – is likely to be approved, as the LDP controls the upper house of the Diet, according to several analysts.
There is little wiggle room in the event of delay in voting the enabling bill, as the current extraordinary session of the Japanese parliament ends on Wednesday.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, said last week that legalising casino gambling in the country would help create new jobs and boost investment.
The potential legalisation of casino gambling “is a landmark occasion and should be a shot in the arm as it relates to investor sentiment in all gaming names that could be players in Japan,” analyst Grant Govertsen from Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd wrote in a note following the bill passing through the upper house committee.
He added: “We understand that extra language was added to the Integrated Resort Promotion bill as it relates to problem gaming. This likely necessitates that the lower house will have to take further action on the bill to affirm the changes made by the upper house [on Tuesday]. The timing is unknown (an extra day or two might get added to the current session) but this too is a formality as the LDP has outright majority control of the lower house and could tackle it in the spring if necessary.”
Casino legalisation in Japan will be a two-statute process. After the enabling bill legalising casino resorts at the conceptual level, a second piece of legislation – known as the implementation bill – would detail the specifics: how casinos are administered and regulated; the taxation regime to be applied to them; their location; and the number of licences to be issued.
“Much work has already been done on the [implementation] bill and there is a chance this bill gets wrapped up during the regular 2017 legislative session that typically runs through June. Otherwise, the bill would likely be tackled in fall 2017,” Mr Govertsen said in his Tuesday note.
Several international casino operators, including Las Vegas Sands Corp, MGM Resorts International and Genting Singapore Plc, have expressed interest in participating in a bidding process for a casino licence in Japan if casino gambling is legalised there.
(Updated on Dec 14, 8.30am)
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