The Liberal Democratic Party has decided not to seek passage of a bill to legalize casino operations during this Diet session because coalition partner Komeito remains cautious on gambling.
The LDP appears to be eager to avoid a conflict with Komeito, backed by the Buddhist lay group Soka Gakkai, ahead of the Upper House election this summer.
The bill was jointly introduced by the LDP and two other parties during last years ordinary legislative session but was carried over to this session after the LDP prioritized passage of the controversial national security bills last September.
“We’ll give up again for this session,” an LDP lawmaker backing the casino bill said Monday.
“The problem is whether an accord can be reached between the LDP and Komeito,” said another LDP member.
The bill would lift the ban on casino operations and developing commercial complexes including casinos.
Liberalization of casino operations is a key item in the economic growth strategy of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Komeito is worried about a possible rise in gambling addiction.
The LDP hopes to resume deliberations on the bill if an extraordinary Diet session is held in the autumn, but a further delay would make it more difficult to open casino complexes ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Lifting the casino ban is “expected to be a big boost for tourism and regional economies,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday.
But at the same time, he expressed his intention to watch how the Diet will respond to the bill, noting there are calls for measures to prevent adverse effects on public security and young people.