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Global casino giants circle as Japan legalises casinos

Thu, Dec 15, 12:13pm by Staff Writer

Global casino companies have been quick to congratulate the Japanese parliament after it officially passed a law ordering the government to prepare for the nation’s first casino resorts.

The Integrated Resorts Promotion Bill passed through the Upper House of the Japanese Diet, paving the way for the Integrated Resorts Operations Bill to be introduced in 2017.

That would enable the first casino to open in the early 2020s.

Now that the law has passed, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has a year to develop specific plans on several issues, including who will be the licensing operators and what measures will be used to prevent gambling addicts from using casinos.

Several casino companies, including global casino giants MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corp. Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. have been working hard to make the case for casinos in Japan for over a decade.

Senior vice president of marketing at Wynn, Michael Weaver told the Wall Street Journal “we have been very active in Japan, meeting with key leaders in business and the government to understand the local needs and desires for integrated resorts.”

MGM was quick to offer its support for the passage of the Bill in a statement.

“MGM Resorts offers sincere congratulations to the Diet on its tireless and successful effort in passing the IR Promotion bill, which opens the possibility of large-scale, integrated resort development in Japan, the statement read.

“After years of study in the region, we believe the opportunity exists to drive significant growth in sustainable travel and tourism – particularly from international segments – along with the creation of thousands of jobs and long-term economic benefit. ”

“With an established, full-time development team in Tokyo pursuing discussions in Japan’s cultural and business communities, MGM Resorts is well-prepared to pursue future expansion efforts.”

“We have been preparing for this possibility by enhancing our cultural commitment to Japan in the United States via our sponsorship of two world premiere Kabuki events with the famous Shochiku entertainment company and by showcasing established and emerging Japanese artists in the Company’s art collections across the country.”

“Today’s announcement allows us to advance our relationships with key stakeholders and together create a coalition of Japanese business partners who will collectively define a vision for a uniquely Japanese, world-class integrated resort.”

Up until now, Japanese leaders held back because the casino plan was unpopular. Polls have steadily shown that around three in five Japanese oppose the idea, but Abe’s party have been long time advocates for liberalisation and look set to achieve their goals

Senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute, Takayuki Miyajima, said “Casinos would be a good tool to keep Japan’s tourism growing even after the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.”

Japan already has plenty of gambling, in addition to publicly run lotteries and betting facilities for horse, motorboat and bicycle races, millions of people play pachinko, a Japanese version of pinball, at privately run parlours.

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