Japan Moves One Step Closer to Legalizing Casinos
The Japanese Diet’s Lower House Panel has finally passed the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill in the face of severe criticism from opposition parties, according to a report published by the Japanese Times. The bill is now waiting to receive approval from the full Lower House, after which it will be forwarded to the Upper House.
Lawmakers will be given time till the 20th of June to vote the bill through; before the end of this year’s session. However, it has been reported that Shinzo Abe’s administration, the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) and Komeito, its coalition partner, are looking to extend the session for a few more weeks to aid the enactment of the legislation.
Good news for operators
The gambling market in Japan has been largely untapped, which has had operators across the globe fixated on it. Many of them have even proposed investing large sums of money, hoping to secure at least one out of what might end up being just an offering of 2 to 3 licenses in total.
Later last week, Lawrence Ho, the CEO of Melco Resorts & Entertainment issued another statement reiterating Melco’s plan to invest over $10 billion towards the Japanese market. Ho spoke at the recent launch of Melco’s new venue, Morpheus, in Macau. He referred to the Japanese market as a “priceless opportunity.” Ho is willing to invest even if it means having to deal with tight restrictions.
The vote on the bill saw severe objection from the opposition. Members of the Japanese Communist Party, Democratic Party, and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan voiced their concerns regarding the bill. They felt that the legislators did not pay heed to certain matters such as the possible increase in gambling addiction. Japan already suffers from increasing rates of Pachinko addiction.
To further their argument, the opposition also cited various surveys and studies.
Earlier in the week, the opposition even tried to hinder the legislative process by demanding the dismissal of the cabinet minister responsible for the IR bill. However, the motion was rejected by the LDP and the Komeito.
The ruling party has always been open to the idea of casino legalization and the establishment of integrated resorts. The coalition supported their stand, citing that it would drive revenue by boosting the country’s tourism sector.