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New Attempt to Legalise Gambling in Japan
- September 14, 2016 By Oliver Young -
Japan is one of the very few countries in the developed world where gambling is completely illegal. There have been several attempts to legalise casinos in this Pacific Island nation, but all of them have been unsuccessful. In the past few years alone there have been several attempts and the proposal is backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and some of the key figures in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
In 2014, the proponents of gambling legalisation faced opposition from some of the MPs of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, as well as members of the coalition party Komeito. A year later, it seemed that there was a wider consensus on the benefits of legalisation, but the bill still has not been considered by the Japanese Parliament. Legalisation proponents fear that if the bill isn’t passed soon, there won’t be enough time to complete the legalisation process before 2020, when the Olympic Games will be held in Japan’s capital Tokyo.
Proponents Are Optimistic
Many casino operators have been patiently waiting for Japan to legalise casinos, knowing that the Japanese market will bring in lots of profit. Earlier this year it was reported that the international casino industry is losing patience with Abe’s Government. However, there will be another push, which, apparently, will be the last attempt to legalise gambling prior to 2020. It is believed that the legalisation and the building of casino resorts will revitalise the country’s economy, as the country will spend a lot of money on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Estimates show that the Japanese casino industry, if created, will be worth $40 billion per annum and that is one of the main motivations for Prime Minister Abe. Komeito, a political party inspired by the Buddhist Soka Gakkai movement has an unfavourable view of gambling and is often named the main “culprit” for the fact that gambling hasn’t been legalised. However, the situation is somewhat different, as Abe’s Liberal Democrats don’t need Komeito’s votes to pass the bill. That is why, this time, there is a significant amount of optimism amongst legalisation proponents.
A meeting of an affairs committee will be held soon in the Japanese Parliament and after that we will now if the legalisation prospects are real or not. Finance Minister Taro Aso stated that he is in favour of the proposal and so is Yuriko Koike, the first female governor of Tokyo, who was elected in July this year.
Legalisation Attempt at the Eleventh Hour
Experts warn that this is the last chance for Japan to legalise gambling in the current decade. If the bill is postponed further, it is difficult to assume whether Abe and his Government will remain committed to the legalisation process, as everyone will be focused on the upcoming Olympics.
The chief of an International Casino Institute which is based in Tokyo said that many international casino operators, including industry giants such as Sands, Genting and Wynn will most likely review their attitude and dedication. He added that the casino industry has been lobbying for legalisation for over a decade now.