Japan Legalizes Gambling - But Casinos Won't Be Finished for Years

Japan Legalizes Gambling - But Casinos Won't Be Finished for Years

Japan’s parliament has passed legislation that will legalize casinos, bringing to end 15 years of debating between government officials.

The bill opens the way for land-based casino resorts to be built, along with smaller regional casinos.

Given that legislation just passed, it’s unclear how many casinos will be awarded licenses. But Daiwa Research Institute estimates that just 3 casino results could generate almost $10 billion in annual profits.

The only problem is that the Japanese government still needs to lay the groundwork for how their casino gambling operation will be run. This means that the first casino isn’t expected to be completed and running until 2022-23 at the earliest.

Legislative details that still need to be ironed out include tax rates, methods of preventing gambling addiction, and keeping organized crime out of the industry.

Leading candidates to win casino resort licenses include Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts. These three companies could end up battling if Japan chooses to offer less than three resort licenses.

As we covered before, MGM is interested in spending up to $10 billion on a Japanese casino resort.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing casino gambling ever since he came into office in 2012, with the goal of stimulating more tourism and spending.

Fortune reports that some lawmakers in both the opposition parties and ruling coalition were critical of the legislation. Their biggest problems include the potential for gambling addiction and money laundering that casinos bring. They also worry about the negative social and crime consequences that could arise with legal casinos.

A poll by public broadcaster NHK revealed that only 12% of the Japanese public supports casinos, while 44% were in opposition.

In order to appease anti-casino citizens and lawmakers, those favoring the bill promised to put measures in place to stop money laundering and gambling addiction.

“We need to develop an environment where treatment such as training for specialized treatment and consultation can be received when necessary,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Parliament’s lower house approved the casino bill early last week. Not long after, the upper house passed the legislation.

Lawmakers must now decide where casinos will be located. Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama are some of the front-runners at this stage.

Japan currently offers gambling on bicycle, boat, and horse races. Pachinko, a pinball-style game, is another form of gambling offered in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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