A key parliamentary panel in Japan has approved a controversial bill to legalize casinos in the world's third-largest economy. It paved the way for high-stakes gambling in the country despite concerns over addiction.
Brushing off concerns over potential gambling addiction, lawmakers from an upper house committee on Tuesday approved a bill to legalize high-stakes gambling in Japan. The vote essentially assured its enactment into law.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's coalition has a strong majority in parliament, so the bill is almost certain to go through by the full chamber on Wednesday, the last day of the current parliamentary session.
Domestic and international companies from MGM Resorts to game-machine maker Sega Sammy Holdings stand to benefit from legalized casinos in Japan, a market that brokerage CLSA estimates could be worth up to $40 billion (37.7 billion euros) a year.
Cranking up tourism
Supporters of the bill said it would allow for large-scale projects combining casinos with hotels, shopping and conference space, adding that such compounds would boost tourism and would thus be in line with Abe's economic growth policies.
Tokyo, neighboring Yokohama and the western city of Osaka are in the running as potential locations for casinos.
Japan is already home to government-backed gambling on horse, boat and bicycle races.
hg/tr (Reuters, AFP)