Japan aims to pass casino bill in Autumn, Abe says

    Japan’s ruling party will seek to pass a law to legalize casinos in the next session of parliament in Fall, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Bloomberg in an interview.
    “Integrated resorts are expected to provide a great contribution to tourism, regional economies and industry, I think, and can be one of the key elements of Japan’s growth strategy,” Abe said. “I hope in my capacity as leader of the LDP that we can aim to pass it in the next extraordinary session of the Diet.”
    Japan’s Diet began debate of the bill last week, after weeks of delays, not leaving enough time to pass before the end of the most recent session of parliament on June 22nd. The delays have left question marks over the timetable for legalizing casinos in a market that may be worth as much as $40 billion a year, according to estimates from CLSA.
    The world’s biggest casino operators have been lining up to bid for licenses, with both MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands saying they may be prepared to invest as much as $10 billion to build a resort in the country.
    Despite the support of the ruling LDP, some of Japan’s smaller political parties and the Governor of Tokyo have expressed concern about the potential social impact.
    Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe said recently that developing a casino in the capital was not a priority and that there had not been enough debate on money laundering and other potential problems that could arise.
    Tokyo and Osaka are seen as the favored destinations for resort licenses, and Osaka has actively courted investment.