The Japanese government plans to set up a new body that could help speed up the process of opening the first casino resorts in Japan in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, the top government spokesman said on Friday.
Officials from various government agencies will come together to work on the matter, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on a conference, the Kyodo News agency reported.
“It will not take that much time” until the task force is assembled, Mr Suga was quoted as saying. “We will need to identify issues to deal with [in the casino project] by looking into cases and legal systems seen in other countries.”
The Integrated Resorts (IR) Bill was briefly discussed by the Cabinet Committee of Japan’s lower house of parliament last month, before the end of the regular session on June 22.
GGRAsia has obtained a note of the main topics discussed. In it, lawmakers give the clearest indication yet that they are interested in having foreign casino operators involved in IRs.
The note mentions a “need to work with appropriate operators as well as the domestic industry”. All the big Las Vegas operators as well as Macau operators Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd and SJM Holdings Ltd have expressed an interest in the Japan market.
The note also shows that an entry levy could be imposed on foreigners as well as locals were casinos to be legalised in Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his party will seek to pass the enabling law to legalise casinos in the next session of parliament.
“Integrated resorts will be a main feature of my growth strategy,” said Mr Abe when he visited Singapore’s casinos during an official visit to the Lion City in May.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China