A tumultuous political season in Japan is making it unlikely that casino legalization will move forward this year.
Reports are that the country’s bipartisan Diet, as the national legislature is called, which recessed on September 8, was close to a consensus on a draft casino bill, but failed to make it happen amid a host of other political problems. An extraordinary session might be called, but it will focus on emergency issues, which would likely exclude gaming.
The next regular session of the Diet is scheduled to begin in April 2013, when gaming will likely be revisited. By then, however, the leadership might include yet another prime minister, the sixth in seven years.
“While the casino measure has been a partisan one in Japan, there has been bipartisan support,” writes one analyst. “We don’t believe the removal of the Democratic Party from power would impair casino momentum in 2013. We believe there is latent demand for the issuance of gaming licenses in Japan from numerous political interests (and prefectures) primarily to help achieve ambitious inbound tourism targets, and to address the negative tax impact that will arise from an aging population that increasingly exits the workforce.”
Experts believe enabling legislation will require a two-step selection process—national followed by local—ultimately resulting in some sort of public-private partnership with casino operators for three initial venues, most probably in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.