International edition
September 21, 2021

Pro-gambling bill thought to have a decent chance of passing

Japan lawmakers pushing for casino legalization

(Japan).- Japanese lawmakers are planning to submit proposed legislation to open the country up to casino gambling, which they hope will be approved in time for the 2020 Olympics. Japan could generate us$15 billion annually from casinos, industry experts say. That would make it the world’s second-largest gambling destination after Macau.

T

he bill is thought to have a decent chance of passing with the business-friendly Liberal Democratic Party in power and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe backing the move.The lawmakers have proposed two types of licences – one for large integrated resorts run by global operators featuring convention and entertainment facilities in addition to expansive gambling floors, and another for more compact gambling resorts in the countryside.

But they have also recommended that Japan limit the number of licences, prioritising locations promising the biggest economic impact and with the capacity to attract overseas tourists.

“I don’t mean to negate Tokyo and Osaka,” said Keiichi Kimura, who heads a consultancy and advises local governments and casino operators interested in Japan. “But it’s just not right to be focusing the debate on those two places only.”

Las Vegas Sands Corp and MGM Resorts International have made it clear that Osaka and the Tokyo region are their primary targets. “These are the locations you can drive that kind of business tourism into and are known as commercial and financial hubs,” George Tanasijevich, president of Las Vegas Sands unit Marina Bay Sands, told Reuters after a presentation in September in which he showed a mock-up for a casino resort on Tokyo Bay.

While lawmakers have not indicated how many locations would be given the right to develop a casino, some politicians involved in the discussions have suggested that one or two licences might be allocated to big cities and one or two to regional economies.

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