Yuriko Koike (pictured), the recently-elected first female governor of Tokyo, supports the idea of opening a casino venue in the Japanese capital, she said in an interview with the country’s state broadcaster NHK, as quoted by other media outlets.
Ms Koike stood as an independent candidate in July’s election.
Some members of the country’s governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are in favour of Japan legalising casino gambling so that casino resorts can be built. They are seen by some as an economic stimulus measure likely to increase the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan.
A number of lawmakers have indicated that if casinos were to be allowed, they would want to see social safeguards; possibly including a Singapore-style entry levy on locals wishing to gamble in them.
Ms Koike was quoted as saying in her Monday NHK interview that the Tokyo metropolitan government would – independent of national government steps – “need to take measures against casino-related problems, such as gambling addiction”.
She added that a casino project would “make the city more attractive” adding that Tokyo needed to attract “more visitors from overseas”.
Ms Koike is said to support draft legislation to legalise casinos. The enabling measure – which would need to be backed up with further legislation to regulate such resorts – is currently stalled in Japan’s parliament, a body known as the Diet.
Brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd said in a note on July 28 that July election gains for the LDP in the House of Councillors – the upper chamber of the Diet – could strengthen the hand of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in relation to casinos.
The note added that there might only be two licences – for large casino resorts – at the first stage of liberalisation following legalisation; rather than a previously-mooted idea of a licence each for two large properties and a licence each for two smaller regional ones.
Union Gaming said the front runners for gaming resorts were Tokyo and Osaka.
Tokyo had been identified previously by government advisers as a likely location, with the hope that a casino resort opening could be timed to coincide with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Given the length of time required not only to legislate for and then regulate such multibillion U.S. dollar resorts, but also to build them, investment analysts say it is now highly unlikely that a Tokyo gaming resort could be ready in time for the next Summer Olympics, which are due to begin on July 24, 2020.
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