Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of legalizing casinos in Japan is on the verge of collapsing.
Reuters reported that Japanese lawmakers plans to postpone voting on the controversial Integrated Resorts (IR) bill indefinitely. Sources directly involved in the process told Reuters that Abe and pro-casino lawmakers don’t have the level of political support it needs to pass the legislation this year.
A series of scandals involving two members of Abe’s cabinet have also compounded the issue, leaving pro-casino supporters scrambling to at least table the bill for the next parliamentary session instead of trying to get it passed in the current session that ends this month. But doing so poses its own set of risks, including the all-too real possibility that the bill won’t even be up for discussion because higher-priority bills like those related to national defense could take up a significant chunk of time available in the next parliamentary session.
“If they can’t pass it now, I doubt whether they’ll ever be able to pass it,” one of the sources told Reuters.
Osaka University of Commerce Professor Toru Mihara echoed those words, calling it a “loss of momentum” for Abe’s cabinet. Mihara spoke as someone close to the entire process because he was one of the architects of the casino bill.
Gaming companies such as Caesars Entertainment Corp, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Resorts International have been hoping that the casino market, the brokerage CLSA estimated could generate an annual revenue of $4 billion, would be open
The latest in a string of delays for the controversial bill will be a blow for Abe’s plan to promote casino resorts as part of his economic growth program. It also dashes hopes for any casino to be built in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. A safer estimate, should that happen, would be to see development begin in 2024.