The ball is finally rolling on Japan’s long-drawn-out bill to legalize casinos.
Members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) still needs the support of its coalition partner, Komeito, which has previously signaled that it is not opposed to debate on the bill. According to the news outlet, the group is scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday “to discuss their stance.”
The ruling party had tried to get the IR Promotion bill added in the official legislative calendar in early November, but they were blocked by minority Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The bill needs to be added in the official agenda, which is set by a committee composed of members from different political parties, before it can be debated.
Despite the time constraints, analysts remain positive that the IR Promotion bill is still “very much alive.”
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.
Melco Crown Entertainment has also signaled its interest in vying for a Japanese casino license.
“Everybody is looking at Japan,” said Melco Crown CEO Lawrence Ho, according to the news outlet. “The Japan legislation seems like it’s finally going forward. I personally have been lobbying it for many, many years. We would be extremely interested and will definitely participate in it, if we are lucky to.”