The Japan legislature, formally known as the National Diet, isn’t set on only authorizing two or three integrated casino resorts (IRs) as previously thought.

Japan legislature Shinzo Abe

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is waiting on the Japan legislature to determine how commercial casinos will operate within the country. (Image: Reuters)

According to GGRAsia, powers within the two-house assembly are considering allowing up to five IR projects when the Diet unveils its commercial gambling implementation bill in the coming months. At an IR task force meeting held this week by the controlling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), officials reportedly discussed expanding on the number of gaming sites.

The Japan legislature passed its shell IR measure in December of 2016, with the stipulation that a more comprehensive governing statute be crafted. Now more than a year later, and lawmakers are still laboring over how to best regulate commercial gambling.

The 2016 casino statute said two or three resorts should be initially permitted. But with numerous prefecture governors requesting their districts be considered for the venues, and nearly every major casino operator in the world ready to bid, and the LDP is apparently deliberating additional properties.

Not All in Favor

Japan’s regulatory casino bill, which was originally due last December, was delayed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to hold a snap election.

It was a move that paid off, as Abe’s LDP won a supermajority in both houses of the Diet. The party now controls 125 of the 242 House of Councilors seats, and 283 of the 465 House of Representatives positions.

Fully in command, GGRAsia reports that the general opinion among the LDP task force is to recommend “at least” four resorts be authorized. However, the committee added that there should be flexibility in the years ahead in adding new properties after determining the market’s success.

Directed by Abe to grow tourism, the LDP is likely to move forward with its casino bill despite plenty of opposition. A poll conducted last summer by the Jiji Press found that just one-third of Japanese citizens supported the introduction of commercial casinos.

Japan isn’t currently home to casinos, but pachinko parlors are widespread and wildly popular.

The Japan News, one of the country’s largest newspapers, said in an editorial this week that “fears are growing that a Japanese public unused to the glamour, huge jackpots and risk of the gaming tables will gorge on the new gambling opportunities.”

The paper’s op-ed concluded, “Can gambling-mad Japan cope with legalized casinos? The answer is no.”

Japan Casino Breakdown

With the updated number of probable integrated resorts, here’s where the Diet is likely headed as of today:

Number: 4-5 casino resorts

Where: Hokkaido, Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki

Who: Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts are the frontrunners. Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Hard Rock, Melco Crown, and Galaxy Entertainment are expected to make bids.

Cost: Casino operators have suggested the properties could cost as much as $10 billion, but a more likely projection is around $5 billion.

Size: Gaming floors are expected to be limited to 15,000 square meters, or 161,458 square feet. A $19 entry fee for Japanese citizens has LDP support.

Taxes: Unclear, but reports have surfaced that it could be as high as 50 percent of gross gaming revenue.