Debate Reopens on Legal Gambling in Japan

Casino Gambling in Japan

UPDATE/05.12.2016: Japanese Gambling Bill Passed in Lower House Cabinet Committee

Japan has the potential to become the most lucrative gambling market in Asia if the ban on casino gambling is lifted.

The debate of the Japanese gambling bill, that would legalize casino gambling in the country, has reopened on Wednesday, reports The Journal. According to Japanese gambling news, the bill might be passed in rapid pace by the next month. Experts estimate the potential Japanese gambling industry to generate $40 billion per year.

Casino Gambling in Japan could generate $40 billion

From the beginning, the bill was criticized and blocked by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s main coalition partner, the Komeito, which is a Buddhist-backed party. The Komeito believes that casino gambling in Japan would have a negative effect on society. On Wednesday, the party said that they haven’t decided yet whether to back the bill in the current session.

Since the late 90’s, there were many official attempts to legalize gambling in Japan. Mostly, the attempts were met with optimism in the beginning but initially the momentum was lost. This time, however, the landscape is different. In August, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promoted pro-casino politicians. Furthermore, casinos could help revitalize the Japanese economy after the Olympics.

The last chance

“It is kind of a last chance to have this discussion for a while,” said Takashi Kiso, chief executive of the International Casino Institute in Tokyo. If the bill is not passed by the session’s end on December 14, interested parties, such as Genting and MGM, could might refrain from further lobbying. If the bill passes, lawmakers will focus on the framework for Japanese gambling laws.

“The Japan legislation seems like it’s finally going forward,” commented Lawrence Ho, CEO of Melco Crown Entertainment who has “been lobbying it for many, many years.” The Liberal Democratic Party finds it ”fundamental that the profits from casino facilities are returned to society,” if the bill passes, stated Hiroyuki Hosoda, chairman of the party.

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