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Legalization of Casino Gambling in Japan Delayed Again

- October 20, 2014 By Oliver Young -

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to see the first casino open in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The legalization of casino gambling in Japan will probably be delayed again, reports say. According to an official, this is a huge setback to gambling operators eager for the launch of the second biggest gambling market in Asia.

Experts believe that the Japanese casino gambling market would be one of the largest untapped markets in the world with an estimated worth of billions of dollars on yearly basis. Potential investors in Japan include MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Melco Crown Entertainment and Genting Singapore among others.

Not Enough Time

However, the Japanese casino plan would likely be delayed again because the parliament won’t have the time to pass the law during the current session that ends on November 30, 2014. The policy chief of Komeito Keiichi Ishii told Reuters that the hurdle is quite high for both lower and upper houses to enact it. He also added that the members of Komeito are worried about the effects of gambling on people.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the other hand, wants to see the first casino open just in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. However, two of his cabinet ministers gave resignation a few days ago because of a suspicious use of public funds. This could postpone the passing of the casino bill which had already been delayed due to criticism that if gambling is legalized it would lead to more crime, money laundering and gambling addiction.

A political science professor at Nihon University thinks that those that are currently supporting Abe will give up their support and it would be hard to enact the casino law and implement policies. Another expert believes that the scandal would lessen the influence of Abe over coalition colleagues. A third person said that he expects the debate to start at the beginning of the next month, supposedly between November 5 and 7.

Crucial to the passing of the bill is the support from Komeito because the Liberal Democratic Party of Abe doesn’t have many supporters in the Upper House. Those that oppose to the bill are the ones backed by a Buddhist group.

Mixed Feelings about the Bill

While some of the members of the Democratic Party have taken part in the drafting of the casino bill, others are very critical and believe that the rush to pass it will squeeze the bill without much debate. The Mainichi newspaper, on the other hand, conducted a nationwide survey that showed that 62% of the people oppose to the bill and only 31% are in favor.

However, the legalization of casinos has already been carried over from a previous parliamentary session and it will probably not be passed in the regular session from early 2015 because other major bills such as the national budget bill are more dominant. Therefore, it wouldn’t be possible to build any casinos by the time for the next Olympics.

In order to set the entire process in motion, casino lawmakers had agreed to revise the casino bill a week ago and mentioned that there is a need for setting limits on nationals’ entry to casinos in Japan.

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