Japan May Pass a Bill to Permit Land-Based Casinos

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  • Will Japanese lawmakers pass a bill before the extraordinary Diet session ends on Dec. 14?

Potentially some big news from Japan. The country's governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) once again began Nov. 30 the on-again, off-again discussions to legalize land-based casinos in a lower house committee of the country’s parliament, the Diet.

Time is ticking away for a bill to be passed into law in 2016 as the current extraordinary session of the Diet ends on Dec. 14.

Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Wataru Takeshita shared on Tuesday during a press conference that a bill could be passed by the lower house of the Diet as soon as Dec. 6. It would then be presented to the upper house, which would need to pass the bill before the Diet session ends.

If the bill makes it this far, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to quickly sign the bill into law as he is a longtime supporter of legalizing and regulating land-based casinos in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Job creation and tax revenue are the two key reasons lawmakers are trying to pass the bill.

"We can expect job creation as a direct result of the demand for construction in building the facilities, positive effects on the economy from an increase in both domestic and foreign tourists and a fiscal boost from [taxation of] the casinos’ revenue," said LDP lawmaker and the head of the group sponsoring the bill Hiroyuki Hosoda to the lower-house committee, according to the Japanese news agency Kyodo.

There are mixed opinions as to whether there will be strong opposition to the bill. For many years the Buddhist-backed political party Komeito has strongly opposed the passing of a bill despite also being a long-term ally to the LDP and Shinzo Abe's government.

GGRAsia reports that, according to the Japanese Times, an unnamed Komeito party member shared that the group currently shows "only minimal opposition."

However, GGRAsia also shared that according to Kyodo, that during a Komeito party meeting that there was "continued opposition to the bill."

If a bill is passed, there is expected to be strong interest from just about every major player in the casino industry in what is believed to be a market as high as $40 billion per year in potential casino revenue in Japan, according to the investment bank CLSA Limited.

Industry stakeholders appear positive about a bill passing including Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. CEO Lawrence Ho.

"The Japan legislation seems like it’s finally going forward. I personally have been lobbying it for many, many years," said Ho to Gambling Insider. "We would be extremely interested and will definitely participate in it, if we are lucky to."

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