Reuters – Japan’s parliament will likely start discussing next week a bill to legalise casino gambling although proponents may hold off voting until the autumn in a strategic move to prevent opponents from killing it, a key supporter of the bill said on Tuesday.
Takeshi Iwaya, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and a leading casino proponent, said he had some success in recent weeks in garnering support for the bill from a coalition partner and the main opposition party.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to two integrated resorts in Singapore last week, where he said casinos could help to revitalise the economy, also underlined growing support for opening up the Japanese market, Iwaya said.
“We are getting close to starting debate,” Iwaya told a gathering of business executives, later telling Reuters that a lower house committee could kick off debate next week. “It is best to strike while the iron is hot.”
With time running short, Iwaya acknowledged that lawmakers may fail to achieve their original goal of getting the bill passed by both chambers of parliament during the current session ending on June 22.
As a fall-back strategy, Iwaya said proponents may look to kick off debate in the lower house – where backing for the bill is strong – but stop short of pushing for its passage during the current session.
This manoeuvre would ensure that the bill remains in discussion by the lower house and is carried over into an expected extraordinary parliament session in the fall, allowing proponents to “keep a grip” on the bill, Iwaya said.