The upper house of Japan’s parliament – a body also known as the Diet – approved on Wednesday (December 14) a bill to legalise in principle casino gambling in the country, according to local media reports. That was despite protests from opposition parties, including a no-confidence motion against the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The bill was approved by the plenary session of the upper house late Wednesday evening with the backing of the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and a conservative opposition party.
Some members of the Buddhist-influenced Komeito – a junior partner in the ruling coalition – voted against the bill after the party allowed a conscience vote, reported the Kyodo news agency.
The bill passed through an upper house committee on Tuesday evening, after changes were introduced to reinforce provisions aimed at preventing problem gambling.
The Japan Times newspaper reported that the LDP proposed a few amendments to the bill, including defining the government’s responsibility to better combat gambling addiction and stipulating that the legislation be reviewed within the first five years of its enactment.
Given the extent of the amendments, the bill will now be sent back to the lower house of the parliament for added scrutiny. The original version of the bill had cleared the lower chamber of the Diet on December 6, after just a few hours of deliberation. Once the lower house approves the amendments, the bill will be sent for promulgation.
According to Kyodo news agency, the secretaries general of the LDP and Komeito agreed to consider extending the Diet session by two more days, buying time to pass the casino bill.
The bill now approved by the upper house legalises casino gambling in “integrated resorts” that include hotels and entertainment facilities. 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.
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