Japan Gambling Bill fails

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Japan Gambling Bill fails

A bill that would have legalized casino gambling in Japan recently died when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved parliament to call a snap election.

Companies such as Las Vegas Sands Corp had hoped that legislation would pass this year, allowing for licenses and regulations to be determined next year. Furthermore, this would've given casino companies time to set up before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. However, the bill's defeat means that even if it passes next year, casinos wouldn't be ready by the Summer Olympics.

There's even hesitation that gambling legislation will pass in 2015, when the country's budget and defense will likely dominate parliamentary discussions. "It's challenging but not impossible," said Satoshi Okabe, a casino lobbyist.

Currently, Pachinko - a pinball-type arcade game that pays out prizes - is the only legal form of gambling in the country. The situation will remain this way since gambling legislative efforts have died in parliament. And that means Las Vegas Sands, MGM Grand and other casino giants continue to be shut out of Japan.

The same reigns true for the world's top online casinos too. Many leading iGaming providers, like those listed here, have had success penetrating other regulated online gaming markets. But they likely won't get into the Japanese market for years, seeing as how the country can't even pass land-based gaming legislation.

Many industry analysts view Japan as the world's best-untapped casino market. Research provided by Union Gaming suggests that the Land of the Rising Sun could generate $15 billion from casino gaming, which would make it the world's second-biggest market behind Macau. Speaking of which, there might be even more opportunity here for Japan because Macau is struggling amid a Chinese corruption crackdown. But as long as Japan continues to avoid legalizing the activity, they'll fail to grab a piece of the lucrative southeastern Asian gambling market.

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