A group of Japanese pro-casino legislators has submitted a casino legalisation bill to the country’s parliament, Reuters reported quoting unnamed sources.
The report said that parliamentary records showed that members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the Japan Innovation Party and the Party for Future Generations had submitted the bill. The group of lawmakers said it was unclear when the bill would be passed, Reuters added.
The idea of legalising casinos in Japan has been discussed for at least a decade but such bill has been delayed recently by Komeito, a Buddhist-influenced political party that is a junior partner in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government. Komeito has major reservations about casinos, citing fears of boosting gambling addiction and other social ills.
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 is expected to detail the specifics, including the number of casino licences, locations, tax rates and whether locals would be allowed to gamble domestically.
Union Gaming Research Macau Ltd last week said in a note that the submission of an enabling bill for casino resorts in Japan still seemed possible during the country’s current parliamentary session, which is due to end on June 24. But analysts Grant Govertsen and Felicity Chiang cautioned: “As with previous years, the next big question is: will debate begin with enough time to ensure both houses of the Diet [Japan's parliament] can pass it during the regularly scheduled session [?]”
Several major international operators have shown interest in investing in Japan if casino gambling is legalised there. Investment analysts have suggested Japan could become the second largest casino market in Asia by gross gaming revenue, surpassed only by Macau.
The American Gaming Association earlier this month offered to provide support to Japan in legalising casino gambling.
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"We like Japan. We like all areas…but it is a matter of what the local government and the local people really want"
Ted Chan Ying Tat
Chief operating officer of Galaxy Entertainment Japan