The countdown timer continues towards the end of the extended session for Japan’s Parliament. The legislators will break on July 22, and several lawmakers, in conjunction with the country’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, are hoping to find resolution for the controversial Integrated Resort Implementation Bill (IRIB) before everyone goes home and the lights are turned off. Several measures have already been approved that could help the major bill get the green light, but there is still some work to be done.
The country’s Upper House has now enacted a law governing gambling addiction. The Basic Bill on Gambling Addiction Countermeasures was accepted by lawmakers, and paves the way for the final arguments over the IRIB. The bill passed by a vote of 183-46 last Friday with strong support from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, as well as its coalition party, Komeito. Members of the opposition parties, the Democratic Party for the People and the Japan Innovation Party, also approved the bill.
The gambling addiction bill was touted to be the last major hurdle before voting could take place on the IRIB. However, there was some last-minute concern that the bill wouldn’t be approved. A total of 11 new resolutions were added to it by the Upper House, all of which needed to be confirmed prior to the bill’s passage. The riders include requirements for additional research into problem gambling, the implementation of measures by gambling operators and local governments to battle problem gambling and the creation of awareness campaigns to educate citizens on the potential pitfalls of gambling.
If everything goes well from this point forward and the bill can be approved, Japan will authorize casino licenses for possibly three operations at first. Several major operators, including MGM, Caesars and Las Vegas Sands, are among the many companies that have indicated they will compete for one of the scarce licenses.
Gambling officially became legal in Japan in December 2016. However, it could not be offered until the legal framework was implemented by the country’s Parliament. The IRIB will provide the framework, and will cover items such as how casinos are regulated, how they will be taxed, where they will be located and the number of licenses that are to be issued.