The Japanese parliament has begun deliberations on proposed legislation that would legalize casino gambling with members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party revealing that they hope to take the measure as far as possible before their winter recess starts on December 14.
According to a report from Kyodo News, the Bill For The Promotion Of Integrated Resort Facilities, which is better known as the “Casino Bill”, is being sponsored by members of the Liberal Democratic Party and would establish rules to allow operators to build and run integrated casino resorts.
Japanese law currently bans casino gambling 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 its passage is being seen by many in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s political party as a key way to create jobs and maintain tourist numbers following the conclusion of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“We can expect job creation as a direct result of the demand for construction in building the facilities, positive effects on the economy from an increase in both domestic and foreign tourists and a fiscal boost from [taxing] the casinos’ revenue,” said Hiroyuki Hosoda, a Liberal Democratic Party member of Japan’s House Of Representatives and a sponsor of the “Casino Bill”.
Fellow Liberal Democratic Party representative Wataru Takeshita told Kyodo News that the proposed legislation could clear the lower house as soon as Tuesday before making its way to the upper House Of Councillors for a vote.
However, not everyone is convinced and the “Casino Bill” is set to face stiff opposition from members of the Komeito political party, which is serving in coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party. Critics have explained that the legislation’s passage could compromise public safety and increase instances of problem gambling while additionally enriching organized crime syndicates.
“If casinos are to be included in the integrated resorts, there is a need to face the issue of gambling addiction head on and construct measures to limit that negative side as much as possible,” Komeito lawmaker Shigeki Sato told Kyodo News.
The news service reported that the “Casino Bill” is also facing criticism from Democratic Party Of Japan General Secretary Yoshihiko Noda. A former Prime Minister of Japan, Noda called the desired schedule for the passage of the legislation, which envisions a committee vote on Friday before a lower house plenary session ballot on December 6, “extremely heavy-handed”.
“We can’t allow things to be forced when there are various opinions even within the ruling parties,” Noda told Kyodo News. “I’ve [gambled] at casinos several times but whether or not it should be done in Japan at this particular time is a different question.”