The Japan casino bill that would authorize three commercial integrated resorts (IR) is expected to receive a vote this week in the National Diet’s House of Representatives.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet introduced the IR bill to the legislature in late April. As drafted, the measure would allow three multibillion dollar resorts to be constructed in three different regions, with gross gaming revenue taxed at 30 percent.
Japanese residents would pay a ¥6,000 ($54) entrance fee, and be limited to three visits a week and 10 times per month.
After about a month and a half with the bill, on Tuesday the Jiji Press reported that House Cabinet Committee Chairman Daishiro Yamagiwa used his authority to recommend a vote.
Yamagiwa is a member of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the political party that controls both the Diet’s House of Representatives and upper House of Councilors.
Abe celebrated Kim Jong Un’s commitment to denuclearize this week during his summit with President Donald Trump. Kim is reportedly interested in himself welcoming casinos in his country, though the odds any casino company would jump at the opportunity are presumably long at this juncture.
Getting Vote Out
Opposition parties swiftly responded to Yamagiwa’s intentions by motioning to dismiss the vote.
The Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP), which holds just 54 of the House of Representatives’ 465 seats, protested Yamagiwa’s decision late Tuesday night. CDP members are calling on further discussions regarding the casino bill before moving to vote.
With the Diet’s scheduled June 20 adjournment, the opposition party’s goal is to stall the legislation. The CDP and other opposition groups say the federal government failed to conduct adequate research into the negative impacts of legalizing commercial gambling.
To combat problem gambling concerns, the LDP last month passed a complementary bill through the House of Representatives that requires casino operators to present in their bids safeguards to limit potential harms the three resorts might place on citizens.
All six of Macau’s licensed casino operators – Sands, Wynn, MGM, Melco, Galaxy, and SJM — are expected to make proposals in Japan. Investments could reach upwards of $10 billion per resort.
Morgan Stanley believes the three casinos will generate $15 billion in annual gross gaming revenue by 2025. That would be more than two times the size of the Las Vegas Strip’s roughly 40 casinos.
Despite opposition seeking to delay a vote, the LDP has the power to push the Japan casino bill through at will.
Along with the Komeito, its coalition partner, the controlling parties hold 150 of the House of Councilors’ 242 positions. In the House of Representatives, the LDP and Komeito represent 312 of the 465 seats.
With ample majority in both legislative chambers, the presumption is that the gaming legislation will eventually pass. LDP officials have almost guaranteed as much.
Abe has directed his coalition to pass the IR bill before their June 20 scheduled adjournment. If they fail to do so, LDP leaders said they would propose extending the legislative session.
LDP lawmakers estimated that passing the casino statute would take around 45 days from receipt (April 27). Today marks day 46 since Abe’s Cabinet presented the measure to the National Diet.