Japan pushes to legalise casinos by December 14

2 December 2016

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is hoping to push through a bill that would legalise casinos in the country by December 14.

According to The Japan Times newspaper, Wataru Takeshita, parliamentary affairs chief at the LDP, said the party hopes to push the bill through the committee stage today (Friday) and voted upon during a plenary session of the chamber next week.

The bill, backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has attracted criticism from some quarters, with those opposed to the legislation claiming that it could lead to an increase in the rate of gambling addiction and crimes linked to casinos, including money-laundering.

However, in a session this week, the bill generated only minimal opposition, with the Democratic Party, the largest opposition force, boycotting the session.

The LDP is now hoping to build on this largely positive outcome by enacting the law by the session’s closure on December 14.

Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the LDP, told a news conference: “We do not plan to scrap the bill for now; so it is only natural for us to try to enact the bill by the end of the session.”

The bill was first put forward in 2013 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by LDP executive council chairman Hiroyuki Hosoda.

Speaking at the session earlier this week, Hosada said: “The economic effects will spread to areas even outside those where integrated resorts (IR) are located.”

LDP lawmaker Takeshi Iwaya was also keen to stress the legislation should not be referred to as the ‘Casino Bill’, but instead the ‘IR Bill’, designed to dissolve the negative image associated with gambling.

Iwaya added: “We are not thinking at all about creating casinos alone, we are thinking of complex entertainment facilities.”

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