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Thursday, 1st March 2012
In Business In Japan,

Japan government moves to legalise gambling

Casinos could appear in Japan within five years if the government's move to legalise gambling in the country proves successful.

A cross-party coalition of 150 lawmakers are in support of legalising gambling in Japan and have given their backing to legislation that could see the first casinos built on the island.

The move has been partly driven by gambling interests in America as well as the search for new industries which could help push the country out of its economic slump, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The other Asian gaming markets in Singapore and Macau are multi-billion dollar industries and it is estimated that Japan's gaming industry could be worth between $10 billion and $44 billion (£6.3 billion and £27.6 billion) – more than Las Vegas even at the lower end of the scale.

Leaders of the cross-party group have revealed they will put the bill forward before the current parliamentary session comes to an end in June.

Should it be approved, it could be as little as two years before gambling is legalised and a further three before the first casinos open.

Speaking to the news provider, Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Takeshi Iwaya said that opening up Japan to casinos would "help promote tourism, encourage business, create jobs, and boost local development".

"Neighbouring areas are contemplating similar plans, so if we don't hurry, we may risk missing out on a big opportunity," he added.

American-owned casino operators have been vocal in their support of the campaign, with Las Vegas Sands Corp chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson giving a speech in Tokyo this week about the economic advantages of integrated resort development.

Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas tycoon who owns Wynn Casinos is also a supporter of the move, though he recently fell-out with Japanese gambling entrepreneur and business partner Kazuo Okada.

Last year, revenues from the gaming industry in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau grew by 42 per cent to MOP 268 billion (£21.3 billion).

Written by Susan Ballion