Japan’s ruling party gives up again on bill legalizing casinos—for now

Japan’s ruling party gives up again on bill legalizing casinos—for now

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has decided not to pursue the bill that could pave the way for legal casino operations in Japan, at least until the next Diet session. The reason: LDP’s coalition partner is still on the fence on gambling.

Japan’s ruling party gives up again on bill legalizing casinos—for nowDuring last year’s ordinary legislative session, LDP and two other parties jointly introduced a bill to legalize casino operations but the proposal was carried over to 2015 after LDP decided to prioritize passing the more pressing national security bills last September.

Now, an LDP member told Jiji Press they are giving up “again for this session.” Why? Because the ruling party wants to avoid a conflict with coalition partner Komeito ahead of the upcoming Upper House election in summer.

“The problem is whether an accord can be reached between the LDP and Komeito,” another LDP lawmaker told the news outlet.

Over the past years, major casino corporations have been lobbying to bet casino gambling legalized in Japan. In April, LDP tried to bring up the long-delayed casino bill, which would have lift the ban on casino operations and developing integrated resorts in the country. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was quoted by Jiji Press saying, a lift on the casino ban is “expected to be a big boost for tourism and regional economies.”

Komeito, however, is worried about a possible rise in gambling addiction among the Japanese people, according to the news outlet.

The LDP is hoping the bill can be revived if an extraordinary Diet session will be held in the autumn, but another delay and Japan won’t be seeing a casino complex open in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics Games.

Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen previously said that 2020 will be “the earliest a large-scale IR” will open in the country, especially since the two-chamber Diet will have to pass one bill to decriminalize casino-style gaming and another legislation, which will contain all of the necessary details so potential developers can assess their strategies.

“The 2016 Diet session now represents the earliest potential passage for the first of two gaming bills that will be required for gaming expansion to become a reality,” Govertsen said in a note.