Japanese summer elections spell further delays for casino legislation progress

japan-casino-legislation-delayStop us if you’ve heard this one, but elections in Japan could push the prospects for passage of casino legislation to the second half of 2016 at the earliest.

In the dying days of 2015, Japanese media outlet Hokkaido Shimbun quoted some senior officials in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) saying that the upcoming elections of the House of Councilors this summer meant the country’s long-awaited casino bill would have to wait a little longer.

For years now, Japan has been toying with the idea of rewriting its constitution to authorize casino gambling, with the latest effort coming up short last summer. Initially, the required two-stage process requires passage of a so-called Integrated Resort (IR) promotion bill that would amend the constitution, which would allow for the passage of a second bill that would spell out the nuts and bolts of how the country’s casino industry would be managed.

But a senior LDP official told the Hokkaido Shimbun said there was “no chance” of the IR bill passing in the ordinary Diet session that commenced on Monday, as there was “no time for it” before this summer’s elections in the legislature’s upper house.

Similarly, an executive in the LDP’s coalition partner Komeito party said there was “no reason to [pass the IR bill] before the elections. This bill is frozen until the Autumn extraordinary Diet session.” Komeito is a more conservative faction than the LDP and has traditionally been a lot less enthusiastic about the country going down the casino road.

Casino proponents had originally pitched skeptics on the idea that casinos in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka would serve as an extra draw for tourists descending on Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. In October, Union Gaming analysts suggested 2022 was now the earliest any integrated resort would open its doors in Japan.