Japan PM Abe backs IRs for Japan

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe toured Singapore’s two luxury integrated resorts on Friday and said he backed such developments in Japan.
    “I think integrated resorts will be a key part of Japan’s economic growth strategy,” Abe was quoted as saying by Japanese media.
    The legalization of casinos in Japan is likely to be the biggest news in the gambling world this year, creating a market that is predicted to be the second-biggest in the world after Macau. The consensus estimate for potential revenue is around $20 billion, though CLSA has said it may be as high as $40 billion. Macau earned $45.2 billion in gross gaming revenue in 2013.
    As a result, the world’s biggest gambling companies have been jockeying for position in the market, laying the groundwork for potential license bids.
    However, the much anticipated bill to start the approval process has been stalled, with other legislation taking a priority, meaning it’s now highly unlikely to be passed during the current session of the Diet, which ends on June 22.
    Abe was touring Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands property and Genting Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa on a fact-finding mission about the potential economic benefits of allowing integrated resorts, as well as the downside in terms of the risks of problem gambling and other social ills.
    LVS Chairman Sheldon Adelson told investors at a conference in New York on Thursday that he hoped the luxurious Marina Bay Sands property would make such an impression that Abe would push hard to get the bill passed.
    Most industry observers are confident that the bill will still be approved in a Fall session of parliament, but given the cumbersome legislative process that may still make it impossible for casinos to open their doors in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
    Many operators had hoped to capitalize on the influx of visitors expected for the games. “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,” he was cited as saying, referring to lawmakers deliberating the bill.