As anticipated for months, Japan’s parliament has now approved a new law allowing integrated casino/resorts to open in a renewed effort to increase foreign visitors.
The bill was approved and enacted into law in the upper house Friday, having passed Japan’s lower house last month.
The legislation adds rules of operation to a law on casino development approved in 2016. The enactment of the “integrated resorts” law means casinos can operate at resorts that include hotels, conference halls and shopping malls.
Major U.S. gambling companies including Las Vegas Sands, MGM International, Wynn, Hard Rock and numerous others have all expressed a willingness to spend into the billions of dollars if allowed to enter what is expected to be a lucrative new Japanese market.
The law allows up to three casinos to operate, but observers note that they are unlikely to open until the mid-2020s, after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Several cities, including Osaka and Wakayama in western Japan, Yokohama, a southern port city of Sasebo, and a few cities on the northern island of Hokkaido have expressed interests to bid for casino licenses.
Additionally, the law limits local residents to three casino visits per week and 10 per month. Admission will be free for foreigners but Japanese residents will be required to pay an admission fee.