Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party and its ally Komeito agreed at a meeting on Tuesday to try and submit to the country’s parliament before the end of the current legislative session a bill tackling gambling addiction, GGRAsia has been told.
The present – extraordinary – session of the two-chamber body is due to end on December 9, according to the website of the lower chamber, the House of Representatives.
According to GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent, on Monday this week, Toshihiro Nikai, Secretary-General of the LDP, said that it and Komeito were focused on possibly even passing the anti-addiction measure during the current sitting.
An article in the Mainichi Shimbun news outlet on November 16 suggested that the bill – widely trailed as a necessary precondition for the passage in the nation’s parliament (pictured) of the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill – might only be discussed when Japan’s annual budget is passed next year, possibly in late spring.
Casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd expects an update on outstanding legislation for Japan’s nascent casino industry only in the spring, said Deutsche Bank Securities Inc in a Tuesday note, citing recent meetings with company management in New York City.
“Like others with whom we recently discussed the Japan opportunity, Wynn Resorts expects an update on the gaming bills in the spring of 2018,” said the memo from analysts Carlo Santarelli and Danny Valoy.
Matt Maddox, president of Wynn Resorts, stated during the firm’s third-quarter earnings call in late October, that the company anticipated there would be a “long process” in order to set up a Japanese casino industry even after the passage of necessary legislation, but the political environment seemed encouraging.
Deutsche Bank said in its Tuesday memo: “While Wynn Resorts has been more subdued in its rhetoric around Japan [than others], we believe the market is a priority and we believe Wynn Resorts has been quietly working aggressively to position [itself] for a licence.”
Mr Santarelli and Mr Valoy added: “We expect Wynn Resorts would finance Japan out of a separate restricted group and management expects to partner for the development.”
It had been widely reported in Japan that any foreign companies wishing to bid for a Japan casino licence would need a local partner, but there has been no clarification so far from the government on whether foreigners could be majority rather than minority partners.
James Murren, chairman of MGM Resorts International, another suitor for a Japan permit, said in a September presentation in Tokyo he expected that any consortium his firm might work with to build a gaming resort in that country was likely to be “Japanese-led”.
Deutsche Bank’s Tuesday note hinted at possible reasons why the Japanese government appeared to be strongly focused on passing gambling addiction counter measures before moving to the final stage of legalising a casino industry.
The institution stated: “We believe Japan could be a US$20-billion to US$30-billion market, driven primarily by local play.”
Its analysts added: “Junkets are not expected to have a presence in Japan, thus play from mainland China is expected to be relatively limited and as such, Japan is unlikely to have a material/discernible impact on Macau gross gaming revenue.”
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"The stronger mass growth [in Macau in the second quarter] should be viewed positively vis- à-vis [the] government’s stated priority”
Japanese brokerage Nomura