World - - Dec 15,2016
Japan’s parliament passed a long-awaited law on Thursday to legalize casinos in the country in a bid to pave the way of billions of dollars of potential investment.
This decision has ended a 15-year-old political argument and opened the Japanese market for projects that combine high stakes gambling with hotels, shopping and conference space.
Casino operators are keen to find new markets, especially those in close proximity to China. International gaming firms including Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts and Caesars have expressed an interest in running businesses in Japan. According to the Daiwa Research Institute, as few as three casinos could generate nearly $10 billion in net profits annually, equivalent to 0.2 percent of Japan's Gross Domestic Product.
But with legislation still needed on how to regulate the sector, casinos are not expected to open for at least another six years. Lawmakers had been fearing that casinos might increase gambling addiction and the involvement of organized crime.
The law was supported by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who believes that casinos will stimulate tourism and help the country's flagging economy. The law already had been passed in the upper house of Japan and politicians in the lower house approved the bill on Thursday morning.
An opinion poll was conducted Japan’s public broadcaster NHK which found that 44% of those questioned opposed the plans, with just 12% supporting it and 34% of respondents were undecided. Casinos are currently illegal in Japan, though gambling on horse, boat and bicycle races is allowed that too only through government-backed bookmakers.
Presently, the most attractive Asian destinations for casinos are Singapore, Macau, Philippines and South Korea. Japan’s market is large enough with its own affluent population and is also experiencing a boom in Chinese tourism. Casino industry can soon boom the market as estimates of the potential size of the industry are as high as $40 billion a year.