Japan On Verge Of Legalizing Gambling
Japan is on the brink of passing a landmark bill that is likely to transform the country into one of the major gaming destinations in Asia.
Gambling is currently illegal in Japan however a betting culture is prominent as evident by the numerous pachinko halls found in the country offering betting on arcade-style games.
The recent election result has strengthened the position of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, resulting in higher chances of a gaming bill being cleared by the country’s parliament.
Prime Minister Abe has been in support of casinos stating that they are key to Japan’s growth strategy. Pro-casino officials have now been given top positions in the recent reshuffle by Abe which is seen to be a positive sign. Additionally industry observers have said that this is the right time for bills to be passed given that Abe’s legislative calendar is now clear enough to focus on it.
The new bill aims to legalize and regulate integrated casino resorts that will offer hotels, casinos, shopping malls apart from other entertainment facilities. The government hopes to use casinos to increase tourism in the country and boost economic growth.
According to reports, three recently appointed officials Toshihiro Nikai the secretary-general, Hiroyuki Hosoda, the General Council chairman and Toshimitsu Motegi the police chief met last week to discuss the bill and agreed to present it in the parliament in ongoing session which ends in Nov. 30.
Steven Gallaway, managing partner at Global Market Advisors, stated that it was more likely for the proposal to get a favourable reception now as international casino companies have spent time to educate legislators and other stakeholders on the benefits of casinos.
Economic benefits from casinos are numerous. According to investment firm CLSA integrated casino resorts could generate as much as $40 billion in revenue for Japan and give the sluggish economy a much needed boost. Analysts believe that the Japanese gaming market would follow the pattern of Singapore, which has become one of the major gaming hubs with just two integrated resorts.
In a statement Gallaway said
While I don't ever see Japan becoming the next Macau or Las Vegas, it could likely become the next Singapore. Both countries are politically and economically stable, have diverse levels of international tourism, and are geographically on opposite sides of Asia
However the Japanese gaming market is likely to differ in one main aspect. The Singaporean gaming industry is skewed towards VIP gaming but the expectation is that in Japan it would be geared towards mass market gamblers.
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