Japan Gets Closer to Legalized Gambling as Casino Bill Hits Parliament
Japan's journey to legalizing casino gambling entered a decisive phase after a bill to allow the opening of casino-based Integrated Resorts was submitted to the country's parliament on Tuesday.
Supported by a transversal coalition that includes representatives from Japan's Innovation Party, the Party for Future Generations, and the country's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the bill is expected to be discussed and passed by August, when the current parliament will end.
If approved, the bill is supposed to lead to the creation of the world's third biggest gambling industry, with revenues that are expected to place Japan right behind Macau and the United States.
According to a study prepared by the Japanese government, the approval of the casino bill - which has also received the support of the country's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - could generate extra revenues of approximately $40 billion a year.
Japanese authorities also believe that the Integrated Resorts could play a key role in the growth of the tourism industry, which is expected to boom by 2020 when Japan will host the Olympic Games.
However, despite the enthusiasm of the pro-casino coalition the bill has encountered strong criticism from the members of the Buddhist-backed Komeito, a party that sits in the governing coalition with Abe's Liberal Democratic Party.
Concerns about the impact Integrated Resorts could have on Japan's municipalities and gambling addictions pushed the members of Komeito to deny their support to the bill, which many believe to be crucial for its approval.
Talking to Forbes, a regional gaming executive explained that the only way for Japan to legalize casino gambling is to obtain a widespread public consensus, which is impossible without a green light from Komeito.
The American Gaming Association Is Ready To Help Japan Pass The Bill
The impact of Japan's potential entryinto the casino gambling arena has already attracted the attention of the top global players in the industry.
Earlier this year, international gambling giant MGM Resorts International presented their plans for an Integrated Resort in Japan, with the group's president Bill Hornbuckle stating that the MGM group would be ready to invest in Osaka to create "a landmark destination attraction (…) uniquely Japanese, not a copy of an integrated resort from Las Vegas or Singapore."
Similar to Hornbuckle, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson expressed his interest to start a venture in Japan. Talking to the press, Adelson said that he is ready to spend "whatever it takes" to bring his Las Vegas Sands empire to Japan.
"Would I put in $10 billion? Yes," Adelson said during a media briefing during an investor seminar in Tokyo. "Would I rather do it at seven? Yes."
On April 21, the American Gaming Association (AGA) spoke about the possibility to introduce casino gambling to Japan and said they are ready to help support the country in the process of legalization.
"We can be helpful by providing information and experiences," said the AGA president and CEO Geoff Freeman.
As described here on PokerNews, Freeman believes that American casino operators "would all be well suited to be partners in Japan" due to the vast experience many companies have in creating successful integrated casino resorts throughout the world.
Talking to the press, Freeman added that US-based casino operators "can provide not only gaming experience, but also high-end experiences like nightlife and entertainment."