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Japan Forms Group To Help With Casino Initiative

Supporters Of Plan Hope To Authorize Casinos This Fall

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Many in Japan are looking to legalize Las Vegas-style casino resort complexes this fall to have them built and operational in time to capitalize on the tourism boom that will come from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Forbes reported Monday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is creating a task force to jump start preparations for casinos.

Japan, one of the world’s largest economies, has been experiencing sluggish growth this year, and policymakers are looking to do whatever they can to encourage development.

The report said that “the task force may…be the Abe administration’s way to keep enthusiasm from waning among the gaming companies.” Las Vegas Sands Corp. has pledged to spend $10 billion on a Japan casino, while Caesars Entertainment Corp. has said it would spend $5 billion. Other top casino developers are very much interested in the market.

Japan failed to pass a bill this summer, but something could get done this fall.

Experts say that Japan’s casino market could be worth $40 billion annually, which is close to what Macau casinos won from gamblers in 2013. The entire state of Nevada won around $11.14 from gamblers last year. In 2013, the entire U.S. commercial casino industry took in roughly $37 billion. (However, when you combine that with tribal gaming revenue in the U.S., America is still the world’s top gambling market. That could be challenged, as some predict Macau will eventually reach more than $70 billion annually, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.)

Regardless of where Japan ranks, the Forbes report added that some casino operators might be overreaching on what Japan could offer in terms of investment opportunities.

Japan will be a good gaming market but likely not the gold mine that international casino companies have envisioned. If the task force can’t revive legislative momentum toward legalization and the domestic economy heads further south, a wave of sanity could temper expectations and enthusiasm among casino companies, just what Prime Minister Abe and his foundering economy doesn’t need.

Earlier this month, the Japanese government released figures indicating that five million people in the country of 128 million are already addicted to gambling.