In Japan, proposed legislation that would legalize casino gambling passed through an influential House Of Representatives committee on Friday despite a walk-out staged by critics opposed to the government’s rapid handling of the matter.

According to a report from The Japan Times newspaper, the committee began its hearing on the Bill For The Promotion Of Integrated Resort Facilities, which is better known as the “Casino Bill”, on Wednesday and the measure is now expected to pass the lower house next week before going to the upper House Of Councillors for a vote sometime later this month.

Japanese law currently bans casinos but effectively permits gambling at slot and pachinko parlors while 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.

During Friday’s committee hearing, the newspaper reported that members of the Liberal Democratic Party argued that any casinos built in Japan would be able to take advantage of the nation’s state-of-the-art robot technology and unique culture, which could include kabuki, in order to differentiate themselves from overseas venues.

“Japanese traditions or cultures are a key to keeping our version of casinos internationally competitive,” Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Takeshi Iwaya told The Japan Times.

When devising plans to stave off unwanted clients such as minors and members of organized crime syndicates, he declared that Japan should emulate countries where casinos already exist such as Singapore and floated an idea that would see an expansion in the use of My Number identification cards.

However, not all lawmakers are in favor of the “Casino Bill” and members of the opposition Democratic Party Of Japan walked out of Friday’s hearing in protest while legislator Saori Ikeuchi from the Japanese Communist Party called the measure a “paragon of social evils” as it would aggravate gambling addictions, stoke organized crimes including money laundering and encourage juvenile delinquency.

The Japan Times cited a 2014 health ministry survey that reportedly found 8.8% of adult men and 1.8% of adult women in Japan were suspected of being addicted to gambling though games such as pachinko. It explained that these percentages would equate to roughly 5.36 million potential addicts, or 4.8 percent of the entire adult population, which compares with the estimated 1.5% in the United States, 1.8% in Hong Kong and 0.8% in South Korea.

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