Japan’s IR Bill could be squeezed by recovery efforts

10 July 2018

Japan's law-makers are in a race against time to approve the country's long-awaited Integrated Resorts (IR) Bill after tragic mudslides in the west of the country led to disaster response efforts being pushed to the top of the agenda ahead of the closure of the Diet’s session on July 22.

More than 100 people are thought to have died as a result of the flooding at the weekend.

On Friday, Japan took a significant step towards adopting the IR Implementation Bill by voting into law a basic bill on tackling gambling addiction.

The latest bill was considered to be the final hurdle before the final debate over the IR Bill, with hopes that Japan’s upper house will sign off the legislation before the extended Diet session concludes in 12 days’ time.

However, analysts have told iGamingBusiness.com that the disaster over the weekend had introduced a degree of risk for the passage of the bill. The analysts still believe there is the appetite to press ahead with the bill before the deadline, though.

The legislation would open up the country to regulated casinos, with three resorts lined up to be built initially, according to reports in the country. The progress of legislation has been stop-start over the past five years, with the resorts initially planned to be built in time for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

If the bill is passed before the summer recess, most observers expect the first casino licences to be issued in 2020, with the first casinos, as part of the integrated resorts, set to be operational about five years later.

The gambling addiction bill was passed by a vote of 183 to 46, with cross-party support. However, 11 supplementary resolutions were added to the bill, including requirements for operators and local administrators to counter problem gambling.