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Japanese Prime Minister Reiterates Need for Transparent Casino Location Selection Process

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has once again stressed on the importance of a fair selection of locations for the country’s first integrated resorts with casino floor.

Mr. Abe talked about the crucial step of conducting fair, unbiased, and transparent screenings when locations are selected during a Friday meeting of the Diet’s House of Representatives Committee.

The Japanese government is currently considering the so-called Integrated Resort Implementation Bill, which would pave the way for the formation of the country’s casino industry after lawmakers appoved the legalization of casino gambling in late 2016. Generally speaking, the Implementation Bill will set out the rules under which integrated resorts with casinos would be operated.

The legislative piece, currently under deliberation in the Diet’s lower chamber, calls for the initial construction of up to three casino resorts in three different locations across Japan. According to analysts, the move could create a $25 billion gaming industry, or the world’s second biggest casino market. Some of the world’s biggest gaming and hospitality companies have already set sights on Japan and have presented preliminary multi-billion IR plans.

While the Diet is yet to select the preferred locations for the country’s first integrated resorts, some clear favorites have emerged as the potential hosts of the properties. Osaka has been the most popular potential location among the early favorites, with Hokkaido and Nagasaki being some of the other places to have been mentioned in media outlets in relation to the future establishment of casino resorts. The participation of all three in the casino location selection process has been heavily supported by their local governments.

Chiba, a prefecture located just outside Tokyo and home to Disneyland, has too recently gained attention as a local group of small businesses has pointed to its convention centers and the country’s largest airport as well as to the strong resident support as factors that would gain it advantage in the casino location selection process. However, Chiba’s participation in that process has not been endorsed by the local government yet.

What’s Next for the IR Implementation Bill?

It is believed that the Diet’s lower chamber will vote on the bill next week, possibly on June 7. The piece will then have to be reviewed an voted by the House of Councillors, the government’s upper chamber.

The Diet’s regular legislative session is slated to end on June 20, but reports have emerged that lawmakers are considering extending it to the end of June or early July to provide themselves with enough time to pass the legislation.

The bill’s passage will mark the beginning of preparations for the selection of the preferred candidates for the construction and the operation of the nation’s first casino resorts. However, according to analysts and casino executives, casino licenses are not likely to be issued before the early 2020, if the bill passes this summer.

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