Lower House panel clears Japan casino bill; majority of public oppose

A Lower House committee passed Japan’s framework bill to legalize casinos, potentially paving the way for the legislation to be passed in the actual house next week, Japanese media reported.

The move to pass the bill was backed by the Ruling Liberal Democratic Party and conservative opposition Nippon Ishin no Kai. Members of the opposition Democratic Party walked out in protest.

The Japan Times reported that the bill is likely to pass the Lower House next week before going to the Upper House. However, it’s unclear whether the Upper House panel will rubber stamp the bill as the committee is chaired by a DP member.

Deliberations on the long-stalled legislation began on Wednesday. Global operators have been following progress closely, with the market expected to generate about $10 billion in gross gambling revenue in the first year of operations. That would make it the second-biggest in Asia after Macau.

If the bill becomes law, the government will be obliged to take legislative steps within a year to legalize casinos. The government will also need to draft separate legislation that will deal with more specific questions, such as regulation, gambling addiction and the number of licenses.  

Most recently, Yomiuri Shinbun, Japan’s largest daily newspaper and close government ally held a poll regarding the enactment of the casino bill.

According to results, only 34 percent supported the enactment while 57 percent opposed it.