Japan legalises Casinos

By Nicole Abbott
Japanese parliament passed a law today to legalise land-based casinos. The passing of the ‘integrated resorts’ bill ends 15 years of political argument and clears the way for multi-billion dollar projects that combine high-stakes gambling with tourist resorts.

Despite fierce objection from the Democratic Party, the upper house approved the bill on Wednesday after it was pushed through the lower house last week.

Their concerns centre on gambling addiction and money laundering. Public broadcaster NHK reported that 44% of the Japanese public opposed casinos, with only 12% supporting the bill.

Pro-casino lawmakers promised to implement measures to prevent the increase of gambling addiction and money laundering: "We need to develop an environment where treatment such as training for specialised treatment and consultation can be received when necessary," Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary, says.

However, Daiwa Research Institute estimated that the permitted casinos could generate nearly $10 billion in net profit annually, equivalent to 0.2 percent of Japan's gross domestic product.

As a result, International gaming companies including Wynn Resorts Ltd, MGM Resorts International, and Caesars Entertainment Corp have voiced their interest in the Japanese market by proposing bids for a casino licence and seeking potential partners for investment. The passing of the bill may instigate a battle to win operating rights.

However, casinos will not be in operation until at least 2022-23. New legislation within the next year will set out details on regulation, tax rates and dealing with social concerns, such as gambling addiction and organised crime.

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