In Japan, proposed legislation that would legalize casino gambling has passed through an influential House Of Councillors committee and is now expected to be put forward for a full vote by the upper house of the Diet as early as tomorrow.

According to a report from the Reuters news service, the committee approved the Bill For The Promotion Of Integrated Resort Facilities, which is better known as the “Casino Bill”, earlier today after the controversial measure passed through the lower House Of Representatives a week ago.

Japanese law currently bans casinos but effectively permits gambling via pachinko parlors where pachisuro machines, similar to UK “emptiers” can be found. Punters may also bet on public-run horse, bicycle and powerboat races. The first version of the “Casino Bill” was introduced in December of 2013 before being shelved and the passage of this latest measure is being seen by many in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party as a key way to create jobs and maintain tourist numbers following the conclusion of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Submitted by a cross-party group of lawmakers, the “Casino Bill” obliges the government to establish rules within one year that would legalize integrated casino resorts while establishing regulations to deal with specific issues such as money laundering and problem gambling.

Reuters reported that numerous international and domestic firms from American casino giant MGM Resorts International to Japanese pachinko operator Sega Sammy Holdings Incorporated are interested in entering a market that could be worth up to $40 billion a year while potential locations could include areas near the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka alongside smaller locales on the islands of Kyushu and Hokkaido.

However, not everyone is in favor and an opinion poll conducted by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation earlier this week reportedly found public opposition to the legalization of casinos running at 44% while those in favor accounted for only 12%. Last week’s corresponding House Of Representatives committee meeting on the Casino Bill, which is being championed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, witnessed a walkout by members of the Democratic Party Of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party over the government’s rapid handling of the matter.

“Whether casinos will be a plus or not for society is not only a question of making money,” Masaaki Machida from the Hopehill gambling addiction support group, told Reuters. “Costs for treating, imprisoning or hospitalizing [addicts] would be a spiritual, economic and social loss for Japan.”

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