National government to delay IR regulations until next year

The Abe government is pulling back from the planned July 1 establishment of the Casino Management Board and the issuance of more specific IR bidding regulations out of concern that Japanese public opinion remains hostile to the legalization of casino gambling.

While all of the enabling legislation was forced through the Diet last July, the choice of the five board members of the Casino Management Board will require the consent of the Diet, thus putting the matter back in front of national political attention.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is leery about such timing, coming as it does immediately before the House of Councillors elections. It is widely assumed that having public attention focused on the IR issue will negatively impact the electoral prospects of the ruling conservatives.

Moreover, the ruling party now looks inclined not to take up the IR issue until early 2020, seriously impacting the schedules of some local governments. In particular, such a delay may be the deathblow for Osaka’s plans to have its anticipated Yumeshima IR open its doors ahead of the 2025 World Expo, although that remains to be seen.