Japan casino gambling bill may be delayed until 2015

By Emma Rumney
A bill to legalise casino gambling in Japan has failed to reach a lower parliament committee hearing, meaning it might not be discussed until next year.

After a decade of lobbying the country seemed to be making the first steps to launching what could potentially be a $40bn industry that would rival Macau.

However the committee on Japan's lower house has said they will not have time to address the bill on Friday - the only realistic date to discuss the topic if the legislation is to be passed in the current session - because it has to handle another item regarding the country's Atomic Energy Commission, a representative from the cabinet committee in charge of the bill told the Wall Street Journal.

Lawmakers say it isn’t possible to arrange a schedule for the committee to hear the bill and move it upwards to be passed by the upper house in time for the session deadline on 22 June, as normally any proposed bill takes three weeks to travel between the houses.

Bills also need to be sent to the upper house 20 days before the session ends to enable passage, said politician Sakihito Ozawa.

This means it could be almost impossible for the bill to be passed in the current session.

The country's plans to launch the potential $40bn industry require two bills to be passed ̶ the current bill, which asks the government to create a legal framework for casinos within one year, and a further bill to detail that framework.

Toru Mihara, an advisor to the bipartisan group pushing the bill, told the WSJ he remained optimistic that it would be passed, albeit "not in the near future".

Industry experts say the next opportunity to discuss the bill will be the autumn session of parliament.

But others argue that since the autumn session is short the legislation will not reach the lower house until the spring session of 2015.

The delay could thwart the country's plans to legalise casino gambling and develop projects with casino operators before the 2020 Olympics, which will be hosted in Tokyo.

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