Japan will not ban locals from going casinos

Japan will not ban locals from going casinos

TOKYO - Japan's pro-casino lawmakers are set to tweak a proposed bill on casino legalisation to address concerns of a possible spike in gambling addiction, but have agreed to not propose banning Japanese nationals from casinos, a parliamentary source said.

Japan's parliament is expected to discuss this month a bill to legalise casino resorts, the first step in unlocking a gaming market that analysts say will be worth tens of billions of dollars a year.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has backed the bill, saying casino resorts would help the economy by boosting tourism. The government aims to double the number of foreign tourists to Japan to 20 million a year by the 2020 Olympic Games, but market researchers say Japan's 128 million people would still be the main source of revenue for casinos.

Some Japanese media had reported earlier that the bill may be tweaked to say entry would be limited to foreign visitors, but the source said this was not the case.

"We confirmed that we will not exclude Japanese nationals," said the source, who attended a meeting of pro-casino lawmakers early on Friday. He declined to be identified because the discussions were not yet public.

"We agreed that we will make a partial change, to address concerns that have been raised, to say that we will take necessary measures," he said, adding that details of those measures will be decided when the second bill is drafted.

If the bill passes by the year-end, proponents aim to draft a second bill next year outlining regulations. Lawmakers have said the second bill could include an entrance fee for Japanese nationals and measures to help gambling addicts.

Companies including Las Vegas Sands Corp and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd are vying to win the first licences to operate casinos in Japan, a market that brokerage CLSA estimates could generate annual revenue of $40 billion.

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