Yoshihide Suga and the future of Japan's integrated casino resorts
newsonjapan.com -- Oct 15
Yoshihide Suga, the man most likely to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that he remains steadfast in his commitment to issue a license the national inaugural triad of integrated casino resorts.

The Japan casino industry shifted after the ratification of the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill by the upper house, opening the doors for three giant integrated casinos.

Suga is the current Chief Cabinet Secretary of the coalition federal government. He is among the frontrunners in the pool of candidates speculated to succeed the outgoing prime minister, who announced his resignation due to health concerns last month.

In a television interview in the Kanagawa Prefecture constituency, Suga said that the inauguration of the three integrated casino resorts is still crucial to the plan to increase tourism, and that he intends to move forward with licensing. Sources have also reported that Sugar helps lead a state body tied to promoting gambling-friendly development. His electoral district, which includes parts of Yokohama, is currently lobbying to erect a Las-Vegas style gambling site near Yamashita Park.

Strong support from local companies

Nomura Securities Company Limited’s plan to bring a triad of integrated casino resorts to the country looks to push forward, if Suga succeeds Abe. The company has noted that Suga, a former Yokohama councilor, is a follower of Abe’s economic policies, considered by many to be fiscally conservative.

The company has issued a memo in support of Suga, commending his ‘guiding hand’ and speculating that he will continue Abe’s close rein on policy. The company believes that Suga will continue promoting tourism, which includes legalizing casinos, under his future policies.

Japan’s national debt soared to a record high two years ago, equivalent to 253% of its JDP. Tax bases plummeted as a result of an aged population coupled with a low brithrate. Casino legalization has largely been viewed as a way to bring up tax revenue, as well as bolster international tourism to nourish the economies of areas beyond major cities.

The road to casino legalization

In 2018, the upper house of the national bicameral ratified the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill. As a result of this decision, integrated casino resorts are expected to open up by 2025. Anti-gambling politicians tried to delay the process by lodging no confidence motions to no avail, as the body is currently controlled by the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito coalition. Prime Minsiter Shinzo Abe, notably a pro-casino figure, is the head of this party.

The passage means that local operators and authorities can join forces with foreign businesses to bid for one among three casino licenses, which may be awarded as early as 2020.

The Las-Vegas giant MGM Resorts International has established interest in Japan, and has already assembled a full-time development team for the country. However, a survey by Nikkei Asia Review showed that 53% of the population remained fearful over a rise in gambling addiction.

Opposition to integrated casinos

Groups in southern Japan have reported written to the Governor of the Nagasaki Prefecture in opposition to a plan for the area to be the site for one of the integrated casino resorts. The Nagasaki Medical Practitioners Association submitted a formal letter asking the governor to veto the project, calling it ‘unnecessary’ as well as ‘non-urgent.;

The governor, however, is a known supported of the bid for integrated casinos, and has recently warned against a deferment of the project that may occur if the government further delays releasing its casino development criteria. Nevertheless, the tides are currently in favor of the integrated casino resorts plan coming to fruition.

News source: newsonjapan.com
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