TOKYO, June 6 A small Japanese party plans to
submit a bill legalising casinos to parliament on Friday,
breaking ranks with a cross-party group that wants to delay such
a move until after elections, sources familiar with the matter
The move by the Japan Restoration Party (JRP) threatens to
complicate efforts by the cross-party lobby, which had set its
timetable in part to avoid making the controversial issue of
casinos a focal point ahead of upper house elections in July.
The JRP, which has 16 lawmakers in the 140-member lobby, is
keen to take the initiative on the issue in the run-up to the
election, according to one of the sources, who spoke on
condition of anonymity ahead of the bill's submission.
No one at JRP's offices could be reached for comment.
Pro-casino Japanese lawmakers have been struggling to pass
legislation for more than a decade, watching with envy as
Singapore and other Asian countries made plans for
multi-billion-dollar resorts to attract tourists and investment.
Hopes were lifted by the return to power in December of the
business-friendly Liberal Democratic Party under Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, who has indicated he is open to the idea of casino
resorts as part of his strategy for driving economic growth.
Broker CLSA estimates Japan's gaming market could be
worth$10 billion if two large integrated resorts were developed
- bigger than gambling revenues in Singapore and Las Vegas.
Outspoken Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, co-leader of the JRP,
has been vocal about wanting to develop casino resorts to help
boost the economy of western Japan, and had in the past held out
the option of the JRP submitting a bill on its own.
But the JRP participated in an April re-launching of the
cross-party lobby, leading many to believe it would act in
unison with the group.