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Japan poised to legalise casinos

Tue, Dec 6, 10:30am by Staff Writer

The push for legalisation of casino gambling in Japan seems to have an unstoppable momentum with the Japanese parliament set to vote on Tuesday on a bill which would give the green light.

The Diet’s House of Representatives will vote on the IR Promotion Bill, which is backed by the ruling LDP, on Tuesday.

The Bill amends the Japanese constitution, which prohibits casino gambling, and would clear the way for further legislation, the IR Implementation Bill, to formalise the process for full legalisation.

The passage of the bill on Tuesday would then need to be followed by its passage through the House of Councillors by the middle of next week. However, that is considered a formality should it get through the Lower House.

In anticipation, shares in Japanese gaming companies have rocketed across Asia, including a 139 per cent rise on Niraku GC Holdings, a Japanese operator of pinball-like pachinko parlours which is listed in Hong Kong.

It would also be a massive boost for thr global ambitions of the likes of Crown Resorts.

However, despite the enthusiasm within the casino industry about the likely passage of the legislation, key analysts have suggested that it may be some time before casino gambling commences.

Japan would have to wait for casino resorts to be built, with leading analysts Sanford C Bernstein Ltd, saying they believe there would not be approval forthcoming for temporary casinos to operate.

“The first casino likely would not open until 2023 (we would not envision temporary casinos being authorized as has occurred in some U.S. regional markets,” analysts Vitaly Umansky, Zhen Gong and Yang Xie said  according to GGRAsia.

“The further legislation would need to be fully drafted and debated in 2017 (or could slip into 2018 depending on scope, debate and other pressing matters). After legislation is passed and regulations are developed, the selection process would occur.”

Large scale casino resort developments have a construction timeline of at least five years.

Hard Rock Café, MGM, Melco Crown and Las Vegas Sands have all expressed an interest in the Japanese market should the IR bills pass through the Diet.

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