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Japan edges closer to land casino gambling

The possibility of the vast Japanese land gambling market expanding into casino action, triggering investment inflows of billions of dollars edged closer Friday with an announcement by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that it plans to introduce a legalising bill to the current session of parliament.

According to the Bloomberg business news agency, betting on horse, boat and bicycle racing is allowed in Japan, but casinos are currently illegal.

International gaming companies have been considering billions of dollars in investment in “integrated resorts” offering accommodation and other forms of entertainment alongside casinos if a legalisation bill is passed.

Seiko Noda, the chairman of the LDP’s General Council, said in Tokyo, that legalisation would be a step toward building up Japan’s status as a tourist destination.

Pachinko company Dynam Japan Holdings Co., which is interested in operating a land casino in Japan, gained as much as 9.9 percent on the Hong Kong exchange Friday as it headed for a record close.

Gaming machine companies Konami Corp. and Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. rose as much as 6 percent and 2.9 percent respectively in Tokyo, whilst  gaming equipment maker Japan Cash Machine Co. added as much as 4.6 percent.

Bloomberg reports that a cross-party group of lawmakers headed by LDP deputy Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda has said it’s preparing to submit the casino legalisation bill to the Diet by the end of next week, but it is unclear whether junior coalition partner New Komeito will back the bill. Generally, legislation submitted under Prime Minister Abe’s administration has been backed by both parties.

However, New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi told Bloomberg in an interview this month that his party was divided on the bill and he was doubtful whether it would reach consensus before the end of the session.

That may not be fatal for a legalisation bill – the LDP has a single-party majority in the lower house and would probably gain enough opposition support to pass the bill in the upper house and enact the law even without New Komeito’s backing.

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