Facing 5 billion in reconstruction costs, Japan might be ready for casinos.
That is the view being expressed by operators with an eye on the casino market estimated to be worth ¥3.4 trillion—about $44 billion.
Bloomberg reports that the leader of the group of 150 legislators looking to introduce a gaming bill believes the need for reconstruction following Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami this year makes a strong case.
“It would be an engine for fiscal revival and job creation that wouldn’t require raising taxes,” said Takeshi Iwaya.
Bills were being considered late last year.
A number of major operators are interested in the prospect, including Las Vegas Sands, Melco Crown Entertainment, Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts, Genting Singapore and Wynn Resorts.
Among those wary of creating a casino industry is Keiko Itokazu, an independent legislator. Itokazu expressed concern that organized crime would exploit casinos for prostitution and selling drugs.
“The yakuza would certainly get involved,” she said.
Takashi Kiso, head of consulting firm International Casino Institute Ltd., based in Tokyo, said it could not be assumed that Japan would be as successful as Singapore at controlling vice. Kiso pointed to Singapore’s small size and strict rule of law, which make it easier for authorities to act.
There is also the view that unless Japan could attract foreign gamblers, the casinos would have no positive effect on the economy overall.