TOKYO, June 12 A Japanese opposition politician
on Thursday submitted a set of demands to ruling party lawmakers
who are proposing a bill to legalise casino gambling, pushing
back much-awaited parliamentary debate to next Wednesday at the
The delay raises the risk of the bill failing to pass
parliament this year, which would dampen the hopes of global
casino firms keen to unlock a gaming market expected to be worth
up to $40 billion a year in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Pro-casino lawmakers had aimed to begin debate in the lower
house this week - before the end of the regular parliament
session on June 22 - and carry the bill over into an expected
session in the autumn when they would aim for its passage.
But Yosuke Kondo, a Democratic Party lawmaker, who is one of
two senior directors in the lower house committee handling the
bill, said he made demands to the ruling party that should be
met before he will agree to allow debate to start.
Kondo said his demands were aimed at ensuring the bill
receives sufficient discussion, such as requiring the chief
cabinet secretary and other key officials to be made available
"This is a very important piece of legislation. It needs to
be discussed thoroughly," Kondo, who as the leading opposition
director in the cabinet committee can in principle block the
debate of a bill, told Reuters in an interview.
Kondo left open the possibility that he would allow debate
to start next Wednesday when the cabinet committee is due to
meet again, just four days before the current session of
parliament will close.
"It will be impossible to pass the bill this session," Kondo
said, adding that he was not necessarily against the idea of
allowing casinos in Japan and could see a chance of the bill
passing in the autumn session.
The bill that has been submitted to parliament sets the
basic legal framework for allowing casinos. If that bill passes,
debate will move to a second bill concerning concrete
regulations, which proponents hope to pass next year.
Global companies including Las Vegas Sands Corp and Melco
Crown Entertainment Ltd are vying to win the first licences to
operate casinos in Japan, a market brokerage CLSA estimates
could generate annual revenue of $40 billion.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne and Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Robert