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Snap Election to Postpone Casino Legislation in Japan
- September 20, 2017 By Oliver Young -
It is somewhat surprising that Japan is probably the last country in the developed world to legalise casinos, considering how liberal their attitude towards other issues is. There have been several attempts to legalise casinos in Japan in the past few years. Despite the fact that the current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) were in favour of casino legalisation, they were still unable to pass a gambling law sooner, due to opposition from their coalition partner the Komeito Party which opposed casinos on religious grounds.
Towards the end of last year, Japan finally passed the casino legalisation bill which opened the doors for the establishment of a multi-billion dollar industry. However, this law was just the first step that would eventually lead to the launch of casinos in Japan. The primary goal was to set a legal framework that will allow operators to open their casino facilities before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but it seems that this is not going to happen.
Prime Minister Abe Wants to Benefit from Increased Lead over Opposition
Firstly, a several other legislative acts must be passed in order to formally enable companies to invest in the industry and secondly there are still differences in opinions regarding the specifics of the legislative that will regulate the process of issuing licences and the respective tax percentages that casinos will be required to pay.
Now it appears that there is another obstacle that might postpone the passing of casino-related laws even further. Namely, it has been reported that the ruling LDP intends on calling a snap election in order to boost its position and win more seats in the Japanese Parliament.
Sources suggest that Abe’s Party will most likely ask for a Parliament dissolution following the end of the current extraordinary session which is set to conclude on the 28th of September. Regular election should’ve been held towards the end of 2018, but LDP will likely wish to take advantage from its increasing poll lead. Many feel that the Northern Korean threat boosted Abe’s rating. That and the fact that the LDP’s biggest rival, the Democratic Party is going through a rough period and is facing a crisis of leadership.
This won’t be the first time for Prime Minister Abe to call an early election, he did the same three years ago, when his party managed to increase its Parliament majority.
Election Will Postpone Matters by a Year
The Integrated Resorts bill was the next legislative piece that the Parliament was supposed to pass in order to enable the establishment of integrated casino resorts. The Government is also expected to release a study on Problem Gambling which will help set the guidelines regarding the other necessary law, the one that is supposed to tackle the increased risk of problem gambling once casinos are legalised.
It is expected that this bill will be more hotly debated compared to the IR bill which is more straightforward. However, an early election will significantly postpone the debate and vote on both bills. An election will postpone all actions on new law at least for a year and some suspect that it will be even longer than that.