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Thursday, 28th November 2013
In General Japan News,

Tourists towns 'may covet casinos'

New legislation that will open up Japan to casino gambling has largely focused on the impact on major cities within the country such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, among others.

However, according to Reuters, smaller towns and villages are more likely to trade in their hot onsen springs and traditional tourist draws for a betting venue in order to attract more visitors in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics, to be held in Tokyo.

The southern town of Sasebo which once attracted people from all over the world thanks to its mighty shipbuilding empire, is one example of a town that may look into constructing a casino in order to reverse a declining economy.

Similarly, the port city of Otaru to the north is likely to resort to such ventures in an attempt to capitalise on the historic sporting event.

"Hot springs, Japanese cuisine, Mount Fuji and geisha - these traditional Japanese things alone are not enough," commented hotelier Kanekiyo Morita, who has said he will construct a casino shaped like a giant pyramid in Atami - a hot springs town in central Japan - if the relevant legislation is approved.

"Japan's population is rapidly declining and, for tourist towns, getting foreigners to visit is extremely important," he added.

Gambling is generally illegal in Japan, with special exemptions for betting on horse racing and certain motorsports, as well as public sports, lottery and football pools.

However, lawmakers are planning to submit a new bill that will legalise casinos by December 6th, when the current session of parliament ends, with concrete laws to be in place by 2015.

Commentators believe there is a strong possibility of the bill passing thanks to a backing from Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, as well as the business-friendly mentality of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Written by Susan Ballion


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