The chairman of the pro-casino caucus in Japan’s Diet says the group plans to submit a legalization bill in the next session of the parliament expected to convene in October.
Hiroyuki Hosoda, a senior member of Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and an ally of the prime minister, also says the intention is to get the bill passed in the next session beginning next year.
With Abe reported to favor casinos as part of his program for reviving Japan’s economy and with Tokyo winning the 2020 Summer Olympics anticipation has never been higher that resort-scale gambling may finally become reality in the world’s third-largest economy and Asia’s largest untapped casino market.
“A lot of Japanese gamble at casinos overseas, so the ban doesn’t make sense anymore,” Mr Hosoda told Bloomberg. “It just means tax revenues go elsewhere.”
It is believed that the industry is at least five years from becoming operational, but analysts believe a market consisting of two integrated resorts, one each in Tokyo and Osaka, could rake in US$10 billion in revenues a year, possibly surpassing Singapore and catapulting the country to No. 2 in gaming revenue in the world behind only Macau.
“Japan could benefit from both its proximity to China and their appetite for VIP and mass-market gaming and luxury shopping, and being a business center with huge convention possibilities,” said Tim Craighead, a Bloomberg Industries analyst. “All of it now relies on the legislation process and Japan pursuing the benefit of the integrated resort concept.”
Not surprisingly, nearly all the industry’s global heavyweights are expressing interest, scouting development sites and negotiating with prospective local partners such as Mitsui & Co., Mitsubishi Corp. and Itochu Corp. and gaming machine makers Sega Sammy Holdings and Konami Corp. The trading companies have project-finance experience and real estate development connections, while the game makers have helped develop casino projects and technology outside of Japan.