After months of speculations, members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) finally took a crack at getting the stalled IR Promotion bill on the official legislative calendar—to no avail.
Members of the ruling party made the attempt last Tuesday afternoon, with expectations of debate occurring within the next two weeks. That plan, however, was foiled when minority party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has—for the time being—blocked the bill from being included on the Diet’s calendar, according to Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd.
For the bill to be debated, it must first be added in the official agenda, which is set by a committee made up of members from different political parties, according to the brokerage. So far, LDP’s coalition partner, the Komeito, has signaled that they are not opposed to debate on the bill.
Analysts believe that the IR Promotion bill remains “very much alive,” despite the time constraints. The special legislative session will run until the end of November, but there are reports of “serious talk of extending it through the middle of December.”
“This would be helpful as a longer duration allows more issues, including gaming, to be considered. Absent debate on the IR bill this fall, the focus would then shift to the regularly scheduled spring 2017 legislative session,” Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen said in a note.
Legalizing casino gambling in Japan will take the form of two bills: the first is the IR Promotion bill, which will essentially decriminalize casino-style gaming. This will be followed by a second bill, the IR Implementation bill, which will contain all of the necessary details so potential developers can assess their strategies.
So far, international casino operators Hard Rock Café International, MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands have expressed interest in getting a casino license in Japan. Genting Singapore has also signaled a possible “run at a Japan IR license.” On the home front, there are two top contenders for the Tokyo and Osaka licenses: gaming mogul Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment as well as Sega Sammy, which is set to open the Paradise City in Incheon, South Korea.
“As we’ve noted before, should the bill be brought up for debate we believe the likelihood of passage remains high given that the LDP has majority control over both legislative chambers,” Govertsen said.