Casino gambling may be legalised next year in Japan but the process is still in the initial stages with a bill proposing legal gambling to be debated by the parliament in May. The current government, made up of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Japan Restoration Party, supports the bill to introduce casinos to Japan. Casino gambling is illegal in the country but there are state run lotteries, Pachinko which is like slot machines and betting takes place on horse and cycle racing. Japan is considered to be a major future market by overseas casino operators as different types of gambling are popular, its population is relatively wealthy and the country is not far from China with its ready supply of tourists, gamblers and high rollers.
The Governor of Osaka, Ichiro Matsui has said that the city has been engaged in talks with casino operators so it will be ready to move to have a large casino resort constructed as soon as the gambling bill is passed. Matsui, who belongs to the Japan Restoration Party, has indicated that the city has an area of reclaimed land of over 400 acres available for the construction of a casino resort. He is moving ahead of Tokyo, the capital which has not yet clearly stated where or if a casino resort could be developed if the bill permitting casinos is passed. The bill should progress after a parliamentary debate next month and hopefully be passed before the end of the current session in June. If this is the case, a further bill would be needed in 2015 to clarify regulatory rules and licences for the future casino resorts.It is believed that there would be up to four licences granted and the major international casino operators have been in talks with the authorities in both Osaka and Tokyo. The Japanese government has made it clear that while foreign operators are welcome to bring their casino expertise to the country, they must form a partnership with a Japanese company in order to be granted a gambling licence. Major international and Asian companies have shown interest in operating in Japan including Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands Corp, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corp and Genting Singapore. All of the companies except for Las Vegas Sands are willing to form local partnerships. The casino resort operators would expect to invest almost 5 billion dollars in construction although in Osaka the operator would possibly be required to invest in infrastructure too since there is no rail service to the area ear marked for the possible construction of a casino resort.