Casino Bill Advances in Japan
The Asian casino wave may soon break over Japan, as a group of lawmakers from several political parties plan to submit a bill legalizing casino gambling. With the support of Japan’s principle ruling party, the Liberal Democrats, the bill is likely to pass on its submission to the Japanese Diet, or parliament, in January, 2014.
US-based Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands have already taken an interest in joining the competitive bidding process for new casinos in this populous nation, where the Union Gaming Group has estimated an eager market could attain $10 billion in annual revenues. This will expand legal gambling in Japan from currently limited venues of horse, boat and bicycle racing. Private companies including the Japan Casino School have set up mock casinos – such as Casino Venus in Tokyo’s Venus Fort shopping mall – to provide future dealers and players a bit of training before real money is put at risk.
Pro-casino lawmakers look to Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics as a key event in the process. Olympians and spectators will arrive from around the world; hotels, restaurants and other infrastructure dedicated to the Games can be re-purposed for casino operations after the two-week Olympic event hosts its closing ceremonies. Although observers look to big-city operations in Tokyo and Kyoto, competition for casino licenses will also be coming from small hot-springs towns such as Atami and other destinations that draw weekend and day-trip visitors from the capital.
In addition to the American operators, Japan is drawing interest from Macau’s Melco Crown Entertainment as well as the Galaxy Entertainment Group; local partners in gaming infrastructure could include Konami, Sega Sammy Holdings and Oizumi, which currently dominates Japan’s hyper-popular pachinko-parlor market. If the casino bill passes, the Land of the Rising Sun could soon provide some very active competition to bustling Macau, which currently dominates the casino industry in East Asia.