Japan Could Legalize Casinos By Year's End

Lawmakers are betting on a tourism boom if Japan decides to legalize casinos and become the third-largest gambling market in the world.

What's the Latest?

Justin McCurry of the Christian Science Monitor reports that Japan is just about ready to place a major bet on casino tourism. That's because the country's lawmakers are putting the final touches on legislation to legalize and regulate casino gambling. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a supporter of the plan, which backers say could double national tourism by the end of the decade. The Japanese government is intent on boosting the island nation's profile as an international destination in the years leading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

What's the Big Idea?

As McCurry notes, currently legal forms of gambling (including pachinko!) generate nearly $300 billion each year. Opponents of the plan (including Tokyo's new governor) cite myriad social issues associated with casinos, as well as historical and cultural Japanese anti-casino precedent. For example, it is estimated that 1 in 10 Japanese men are already addicted to gambling. Legislators counter that regulations will be put into place to promote responsible gaming.

As is the case with most major decisions made by 21st century governments, the influence and appeal of money is likely to trump any moral qualms. From McCurry's article:

Las Vegas Sands has said it is reportedly ready to invest $10 billion in Japan as soon as the casino ban is lifted, while other operators are reportedly in talks with local real estate developers.

With cash like that at stake, it's a safe bet that legalization is going to happen.

Read more at The Christian Science Monitor

Photo credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

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