Japan Legalizes Casinos

Japan’s parliament passed a law to legalize casinos. Fresh legislation is needed within a year to set out details on regulation, tax rates and dealing with social ills such as gambling addiction and organized crime.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party and smaller ones supported the bill to help stimulate the economy and tourism.

But some lawmakers in the ruling coalition and opposition parties were critical of the bill, which had failed repeatedly in previous parliaments to come up for a vote.

Their concerns center on gambling addiction and money laundering, as well as the potentially negative impact of casinos on local neighborhoods.

While the location of any casino resorts are yet to be decided, Tokyo, neighboring Yokohama, and the western city of Osaka are among the runners.

Japan already has gambling in the form of government-backed betting on horse, boat and bicycle races.

Gambling at “pachinko” pinball parlors, ubiquitous throughout Japan, is also tolerated despite its legally ambiguous status.

As few as three casinos could generate nearly $10 billion in net profit annually, equivalent to 0.2 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product. Still, casinos will not be in operation until 2022-23 at the earliest.