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Japan – Japan’s Prime Minister lends support to casinos

By - 2 June 2014

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has lent his support to the bid for Japan to open integrated casino resorts having spent time touring Singapore’s two casino properties.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “I think integrated resorts will be a key part of Japan’s economic growth strategy. I would like them to deliberate with a perspective on what needs to be done to bolster Japan’s attractiveness, and how to get people to visit.”

However, analysts and politicians now believe bill paving the way for the highly-anticipated Japanese casino sector won’t be debated until 2015.
Given this timeframe there is now growing uncertainty that the chosen casino operators will be able to be selected and build the licensed casinos in time for the 2020 Olympics taking place in Tokyo.

The bill to allow casino style gambling in Japan didn’t reach a lower parliament committee hearing, making it highly unlikely it will reach the upper parliament before the current session ends on June 22.

Legislators claim it will be difficult now to re-schedule a committee hearing and approve the bill for legislation in time for the deadline as usually any proposed bill takes three weeks for passage between the two parliamentary houses.
The next opportunity will be the autumn session of parliament.

One political source said: “It’s logistically difficult for it to pass in the current session. I would say it’s highly likely to pass in the fall.”
The prime minister visited Marina Bay Sands, owned by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands and then Resorts World on Sentosa Island, owned by Genting Singapore. The belief is that a property similar to Marina Bay Sands would be ideal for Tokyo while a more leisure-orientated resort similar to Sentosa would be more suited to Osaka or a regional city.

Recent movements by operators have seen Genting partner unnamed ‘Japanese institutions’ to bid for an integrated casino resort in Japan.
“Genting Singapore has organised a dedicated project team to understand, monitor and prepare for developments in the near future,” it said in a statement.
Japan-based Konami meanwhile said it it would set up a subsidiary, once a casino bill is passed, through which it would take a minority stake in casinos in partnership with operators.

Konami executive Noriaki Yamaguchi confirmed the manufacturer would partner with casino operators looking to enter the Japanese market. “We can use that network we have built as a machine manufacturer to take part in a consortium here in Japan,” he explained.

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