As Japan continues to warm up on the idea of legalizing casinos for the run-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the public may just soon see casino
complexes, resorts and hotels put up in the country. However, one legislator noted that at the pace things are dragging on in the Diet session, it might be a challenge to open casinos and legalize gambling in time for the major sporting event.
Speaking in an interview, New Komeito party member Masazaku Hamachi said that he is looking forward to the passing of the bill but scheduling concerns in the Diet might pose a challenge in its approval. “It is difficult to pass because of the order of deliberation of bills,” he said. A coalition, which includes the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito proposed the bill as it envisions casinos would attract more tourists to the country in preparation for the Olympics. But for the bill to be approved in time for that, it must be deliberated in the current Diet session. After this session, the legislators come back for another extra session beginning in autumn, which could be another window of opportunity for the bill’s passage before this year ends. In fact, Hamachi is looking at an autumn session for the bill’s approval.
Abe and other lawmakers considered legalizing the casino industry as a complementary boost for tourism in the Olympics. It also has potential revenue of $40 billion year, which is a big help in reviving Japan’s economy that has hit a roadblock. Some hotel tycoons have already expressed interest in investing money in building casinos and hotels in Japan, which includes Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., Steve Wynn from Wynn Resorts and James Packer form Melco Crown Entertainment, among others. MGM CEO James Murren noticed that, “There seems to be a strong political will to move this forward and who knows what the environment will be a year or two from now.” He noted that for this to happen, legislators must hustle, adding, “Time is of the essence.”
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