Japanese Parliament : Legalising casinosCasino gambling is not legal in Japan and many Japanese players regularly travel to casinos in Macau, Singapore or Hong Kong to gamble. Legalising casinos has been debated for some time now and the lower house of the Japanese parliament is discussing the matter at the moment. There has been speculation that the Integrated Resort Promotion Bill currently before the parliament could be amended to prevent Japanese nationals entering any future casinos in the country. The Japanese constitution would need to be changed first to actually allow casinos to be constructed.

Opposition to the casino bill

The current Japanese Prime Minister is in favour of legalizing casinos and in the lower house of parliament where the Liberal Democratic Party has a majority the bill may be passed but the case is not so clear in the upper house where the Liberal Democratic Party is in coalition with the Komeito party. Komeito party members are not all in favour of allowing casinos to be built in the country. Those opposed to land based casinos becoming legal fear that gambling addiction could become a problem. To allay these fears it had been rumoured that the lower house of parliament might change the current draft bill to only allow foreign players to gamble in any future casinos to be opened if the legislation is passed. This is the case in some other Asian countries. Then recently it was reported that there are no plans to ban Japanese players from casinos but that there may be a charge for Japanese nationals who wish to enter the casinos. Such a system is in operation in Singapore.

Japanese market worth billions of dollars annually

The Japanese Prime Minister has been quoted as saying that allowing casinos could increase tourism and so help the economy. The 2020 Olympic Games will attract many to Japan so it is proposed that the first casino resorts could be in place by then to tap into what could be double the current number of tourists to the country. The population of Japan is 128 million so analysts believe that this population rather than foreign players alone would make up the majority of visitors to casinos. If the bill passes in the lower house this month, it should be put before the upper house and if it is passed there then a second bill may be put before the house early in 2015. If it goes to a second bill this one would deal with topics such as licensing, casino regulation, a possible entry fee for Japanese players and legislation to prevent problem gambling. At the moment several major international casino operators are looking to construct casino resorts in Japan including Las Vegas Sands (Sheldon Adelson) and Melco Crown Entertainment.