Article published on June 10, 2014

Japan's Legalization Of Casino Gambling Will Miss The 2020 Olympics

By: Harper Whitefield

Even with the backing of major casino operators, the bill to allow casinos to enter the Japanese market may not pass in time to benefit from the tourist dollars coming from the 2020 Olympic Games.

Major casino developers such as MGM and Sands have been supporting the push for Japan's parliament to finalize a bill which would allow casino gambling in the country. This extends even so far as Sheldon Adelson publicly giving the advice that casino operators need to expand into the Asian markets in order to continue their growth. His casino in Singapore, the Marina Bay Sands, will soon be toured by Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, and hopes that this visit will help encourage him to push through the new law. He was quoted as saying, "he may just tell an aide to get on the phone and tell the Diet to push it through."

Meanwhile, Japanese parliament, Diet, is currently in session and looks to be ready to address the bill before June 22nd when their scheduled meeting time ends. As of the time of writing, the bill did not make the requirement of being sent up to the legislature with more than 20 days before the end of the session so it will definitely not be seeing further action during this session. However, this does mean that those in favour of the bill will have more time to recruit more opposing or undecided members of parliament to their side of the discussion.

This may be a blessing in disguise as the Liberal Democratic Party, the group most on the side of legalizing casinos in Japan, have not enough of a sway over the House in order to make it happen with their votes alone. At the very least, the bill was not outright defeated and there is now time for them to change the minds of their partner in a coalition, the New Komeito Party. This second group is more hesitant about the bill but has not taken a stand against it either. With more time to display the benefits and for the Prime Minister to see how a proper establishment is run, it may very well see the light of day again.

Unfortunately, this delay means that there may not be enough time before the 2020 Olympics for the bill to pass and casinos, and the oft accompanying hotels, to be built, with fully trained staff and filled with all the things needed to operate fluidly. Though this major event with tourist dollars flowing through would have been great for the nation's first start up casinos, even when they do come to pass, they will still do quite well with the enormous population of Japan and the novelty of the business.

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