Japan casino bill clears upper house

By Dhanum Nursigadoo
A contentious bill to legalise casinos in Japan has, despite fierce opposition from Japan’s Democratic Party, passed through a key parliamentary panel, the Cabinet Affairs Committee, today.

Shoji Namba, Democratic Party legislator and Chairman of the committee, has exercised his considerable influence on the timing of votes on bills, and complicated the ruling party’s path to passing the bill, but ultimately Namba was unable to prevent the bill’s approval.

Gaining the panel’s approval has all but ensured the bill’s enactment into law, creating an environment for high-stakes gambling to enter the world’s third-biggest economy.

The bill brushed off concerns from all opposition, including junior coalition government party Komeito, who challenged the legislation over issues of gambling addiction and criminal activity.

Upper house committee lawmakers approved the bill after having similar legislation fail when presented by previous parliaments.

Foreign and domestic companies, from MGM Resorts International to game machine supplier Sega Sammy Holdings Inc could benefit from legalised casinos in Japan. Brokerage CLSA estimates it could be worth up to $40b a year.

Shinzo Abe’s coalition government’s strong majority in the upper house almost guarantees the bill’s approval on Wednesday the last day of this National Diet session.

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