The gambling bill debate in Japan started officially this week and the initial plan was that gambling will be allowed in the country by the end of this summer legislative session on June 22nd, but all investors and casino lovers might have to wait a bit more.
Naturally, investors were the most impatient actors, as Japan is set to be the new gambling hub in Asia.
Therefore, huge gambling empires like Las Vegas Sands, Melco Crown and Wynn Resorts have focused their attention to Japan, waiting to earn part of the tempting $40 billion, which is how much the industry in the country is estimated to be by 2020.
A little more waiting is expected
Everything seems to be in favor of the bill and it seems that not only Japanese horse racing odds will be legal, but also playing poker, blackjack, etc. The support for the bill is extensive and it comes from various sides, including the one of the prime minister of the country Shinzo Abe.
Japanese lawmakers are discussing the gambling bill and the potential legalization of gambling
• The initial plan was that the bill will pass by the end of the summer legislative session on June 22nd
• There are three major casino operators interested in the Japanese market – Las Vegas Sands, Melco Crown and Wynn Resorts
• Las Vegas Sands has some advantage
Despite the willingness of most of the decision makers to pass the bill as soon as possible, there are some technicalities that can’t be avoided, namely the fact that the bill will be open for debate in the Lower House, but there will be more discussion before it can progress to the Upper House, therefore it seems rather impossible that it will pass until 22nd June.
For the time being, it looks like the bill won’t be implemented any time soon, but this is not a reason for discouragement, especially keeping in mind the plan of several huge casino operators to invest billions in this business, once it’s allowed, and give the millions of rich people in the region what they want.
Thus, in the long run it seems almost sure that the bill will pass and Japanese gambling laws will allow wagering. The support of the prime minister and both decision making parties, as well as the upcoming funding of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, will definitely affect the final decision.
The big three
Looking at the massive players, which have already shown interest in expanding their business to this promising market, willing to open and operate Japanese poker rooms and other types of gambling facilities, it seems that all three – Las Vegas Sands, Melco Crown and Wynn Resorts – have good chances.
Both Wynn Resorts and Melco Crown have already expressed their huge interest. Wynn already receives a huge portion of its global revenue from Asia and Matt Maddox, Wynn’s executive, on the other hand already said: “Japan is known for hospitality, high quality and precision. The culture of almost perfection here fits very well with Wynn and its details-oriented focus. That would allow Wynn to be a strong contender in the Japanese market.”
When it comes to Melco Crown, the situation is even clearer – it’s a Chinese company and its growth in Macau and the casino in Manila, which is planned to open soon, show its plans to expand further in Asia. Lawrence Ho, CEO, has already had several meetings with Japanese officials, discussing his company’s potential casino bid in Japan.
All three companies have pretty good chances to establish their brands in Japan, but so far it seems that Las Vegas Sands is the top choice. Sheldon Adelson, CEO, already announced that he is willing to invest $10 billion in Japan if necessary. Despite the money factor, LVS has another strong weapon, already established relationships with various Asian governments, which give it serious advantage.
LVS is still the only US casino operator, which won a bid in Singapore and its success in Asia gives it pretty good chances to have a serious part in Japan’s legal gambling activities in the future.
Thus, despite the fact that the bill might not pass this month, with all the support and potential investments, there is a very good chance that during the autumn parliament session the bill will take into effect and open the door for Japan to establish itself as a serious player on the Asian gambling market.