Japan Integrated Resorts Bill Now Has Full Support From Shinzo Abe and Coalition Partner

Posted on: July 6, 2018, 10:30h. 

Last updated on: July 6, 2018, 09:16h.

The Japan Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill (IRIB) will be passed in the next month now that key officials, including Shinzo Abe and the Komeito party, have reaffirmed their commitment to bringing casino gambling to Japan.

Japan Integrated Resorts Bill
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gives a speech marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. (Image: AP)

GGRAsia.com reported Wednesday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Komeito party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi agreed at a Tuesday meeting to ensure that the IRIB would be passed during the current special session of the nation’s parliament.

Upper House Approval Needed for Casino Bill

The current majority government of Japan includes a coalition between the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is headed by Abe, and Komeito. The IRIB was approved last month by the House of Representatives, but still needs to be passed in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Japanese legislature.

That appeared to be impossible before the end of the regular legislative session, which was scheduled to end on June 20. But the coalition parties were able to agree to a special session over the objections of opposition lawmakers, giving them another 32 days to work with to get the bill through the upper house.

Anti-Addiction Legislation Expected First

Before the House of Councillors takes up the IRIB, however, they will first need to pass an anti-addiction bill to address concerns from the public and some lawmakers over the potential social harms that casinos could bring to Japan.

GGRAsia reported that a piece of draft legislation known as the Basic Bill on Gambling Addiction Countermeasures was presented to a committee, and that such legislation could be voted on by the end of the week. It appears that lawmakers are looking to pass a skeleton piece of legislation that can serve as a basis for more specific regulations that will be decided on at a later date.

Should that happen as scheduled, that would leave just over two weeks for the final IRIB to be passed, as the special session will end on July 22. The bill will likely be presented for a vote in the final days of the session.

The prospect of bringing casino resorts to Japan has been a major industry talking point for the last several years, as the country is largely seen as the biggest untapped gambling market in the world. Major international operators are well aware of just how lucrative landing a license in Tokyo or another major city could be, with the heads of companies like Melco Resorts and Las Vegas Sands saying they would be willing to invest $10 billion or more on such a project.

But while Abe and other officials had originally hoped they could quickly ram through legislation to allow for integrated resorts to be built in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, delays have pushed back the target date for the first casinos until the middle of the next decade. Meanwhile, the Japanese public has remained very cool on the idea of expanded gambling, with 65 percent or more of citizens coming out against commercial casinos in various polls.