Japan lawmakers submit casino bill to parliament-source

TOKYO Thu Dec 5, 2013 4:07am EST

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TOKYO Dec 5 (Reuters) - A cross-party group of Japanese lawmakers submitted a bill to parliament on Thursday aimed at legalising casino gambling in the country, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

The pro-casino group of lawmakers had previously stated a goal of submitting the bill during the current session of parliament, which ends Friday. They will aim to get the bill passed during the next session in the first half of next year.

Japan is one of the world's last untapped gaming markets and could generate $15 billion annually from casinos, industry experts say. That would make it the world's second-largest gambling destination after Macau.

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. Lawmakers hope the first resort could open in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. (Reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Shinichi Saoshiro)

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