Gaming analysts believe that Japan is in a great position to benefit from legalizing the casino industry and Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen recently confirmed that a change in the country’s political environment has resulted in a 50 percent probability of the casino legislation being passed.

This is due to the fact that for the first time in over 25 years, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party LDP has the majority in both houses of legislature. The LDP now has the vital fifty plus one vote that it requires after an independent legislator from the House of Councillors joined the LDP. This means that the LDP no longer has to rely on any political parties including its coalition partner, the Komeito party to approve any legislation.

Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan and his party have been in favor of legalizing the casino industry but have been unable to get the necessary votes in the past. It is not clear as of now as to when the LDP will review casino legislation as it all depends on the Prime Minister’s list of priorities. His immediate plans are to improve the economy and review the constitution.

In a statement, Govertsen said “Gaming legislation (aka the ‘IR bill’) can now be passed easily – although the determining factor will be where Abe ranks gaming on the priority ladder”.

The bill to legalize casinos in Japan is often referred to as the integrated resorts (IR) bill.  The first process in the bid to legalize the casino industry would be to pass an IR promotion bill that would lift the ban from casino gambling and the second step is to introduce an IR Implementation bill that will outline regulations for developing casino resorts in the country. Should Japan decide to push the IR bill through, two mega casino licenses are expected to be issued during the initial stage.

The first license will be for an IR in Tokyo and the second will be for one in Osaka. Licenses for smaller casinos in places such as Hokkaido will be issued at a later stage. Should things progress smoothly with the IR legislation process, development could start in 2019 or 2020 and the first integrated casino resort could open in Japan by 2022. The two major contenders for these mega licenses will local firms in Sega Sammy and Universal Entertainment.

Sega Sammy is currently developing Paradise City in Incheon, South Korea while Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment is developing the Okada Manila resort in the Philippines. There is also a strong possibility that the six big casino developers in Macau along with Genting Singapore could also bid for one of the mega casino licenses.