The advent of landslides and floods in western Japan over the weekend is a factor that “likely introduces a degree of risk” to the chances of passing by July 22 the second bill of a process to legalise casinos in that country, said brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd.
The brokerage was referring to the possibility that Japan’s central government might be focused for some period on disaster relief, with only days to go before the end of the current parliamentary session.
The parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Councillors, is currently discussing the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill. The bill is necessary for the setting up of a legalised casino sector in Japan.
The English-language website of Japan’s Mainichi newspaper reported on Tuesday that as many as 126 people in 13 prefectures had died and more than others were missing, due to the mudslides and floods caused by torrential rain in a wide area of western Japan.
According to the country’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, it was the first time in 35 years in Japan that more than 100 people had been killed by torrential rains over such a short period of time.
Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen told GGRAsia in an email reply: “Our view is that a natural disaster such as this likely introduces a degree of risk to the bill’s passage that hadn’t previously been contemplated.”
He added: “The fact that the problem gaming bill was passed does suggest that the legislature still has the appetite to move forward with the IR Implementation Bill within the previously expected timeline.”
Passage on Friday of the framework bill for measures to counter gambling addiction was reportedly a necessary step before the process to create a legal casino industry in Japan could be completed. It had been expected that the country’s parliament would soon start discussion of the IR Implementation Bill in a committee of the upper house, with a view to forming a resolution on the measure by July 19, before the current, extended, sitting of parliament comes to an end on July 22.
Were the IR Implementation Bill to be delayed until the autumn session of parliament, it could push back the prospective timetable for the whole casino industry.
If the IR Implementation Bill gets from lawmakers the nod in the current session, a number of industry executives expect the first casino licences to be issued in around the year 2020, with the first resorts to open for operation in circa 2025.
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Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China