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NEWS 18 June 2018

Japanese lawmakers to finally vote on casino legislation

By Islam Soliman

Senior Japanese lawmakers are expected to vote by Friday on the long-awaited casino bill.

The enabling legislation, called the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill, will pave the way for legalising a casino industry in Japan and formalise how operations are regulated.

If passed, the proposal would allow for the development of up to three integrated resorts, such as  hotels, retail and tourism facilities, as well as an international convention centres. It is estimated that casino will charge Japanese nationals an entry fee of JPY6,000 (about $55).

The IR bill will face a vote by the Diet’s full Lower House before shifting to the Upper House.  The House of Councillors, the upper chamber in Japan's parliament, are expected to extend the legislative session beyond the June 20 deadline originally set for parliament so they can consider the bill, possibly extending into July.

Some opposition parties have tried to halt the bill's progress, in one case submitting a proposal of a ‘no-confidence’ motion against the House of Representative Cabinet Committee’s Chairman Daishiro Yamagiwa . The committee deals with matters overseen by the national cabinet, including the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill.

Opponents fear the development of new casinos could lead to an increase in gambling addiction.

Japan’s untapped casino market has become a fixation among international casino operators.  In May, senior executives of several international casino groups said that if the legislation were passed this summer, they expect casino licenses to awarded in 2020, with casino opening by 2025 at the earliest. 

Melco Resorts & Entertainment CEO Lawrence Ho said last week that his company intended to spend over $10bn building a Japanese integrated resort. Speaking at the opening of MRE’s new $1.1bn Morpheus venue in Macau, Ho called Japan “a priceless opportunity,” even if the government intends to impose tight restrictions on casino operators and their Japanese customers.

Japan amended its constitution to permit casino gambling in 2016.

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