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Published on : Saturday, November 30, 2013
Industry experts say Japan is one of the world’s last untapped gaming markets and, with a wealthy population and proximity to China, could generate $15 billion annually from casinos. That would make it the world’s second-largest gambling destination after Macau.
With lawmakers planning to submit legislation soon to open Japan to casino gambling, expected in time for the 2020 Olympics, several small cities, hot spring towns, and tourist destinations are pushing to get one of the coveted licences. The bill is thought to have a decent chance of passing with the business-friendly Liberal Democratic Party in power and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe backing the move.
So far, the cities of Tokyo and Osaka have garnered much of the attention. however even towns like Sasebo, a once-proud shipbuilding centre in southern Japan, and the ageing port city of Otaru to the north, are hoping to set up casinos to attract tourists, generate tax revenues and repeal demographic decline.
The lawmakers have proposed two types of licences – one for large integrated resorts run by global operators featuring convention and entertainment services in addition to extensive gambling floors, and another for more compact gambling resorts in the countryside. However, they have also suggested that Japan limit the number of licences, prioritising locations promising the biggest economic impact and with the capacity to draw overseas tourists.