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LDP team charged with drafting casino rules to have first meeting this month

by

Staff Writer

A Liberal Democratic Party team in charge of drafting a bill to outline rules under which casino gambling will operate will meet for the first time later this month.

The team, led by Lower House member Takeshi Iwaya, will examine a host of issues related to establishing so-called integrated resort (IR) facilities. The resorts include casinos as well as hotels, shopping centers and convention halls.

The team will propose rules related to casino design and entrance restrictions, as well as discuss policies to deal with problem gamblers and money laundering.

A Kyodo News poll taken last month, before the bill paving the way for casinos was passed, showed 69 percent of respondents opposed lifting the ban on casino gambling, while local government leaders are often split on the issue.

There is strong support for integrated resorts and casinos in the Osaka and Wakayama prefectural governments.

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui has long pushed for an IR on Osaka Bay. He has lobbied the central government, especially Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to ensure that Osaka is approved for one of the country’s first such resorts. In recent months, Wakayama Gov. Yoshinobu Nisaka has also stepped up efforts in support of an IR project for Shirahama, an onsen resort area.

“IRs are one effective method for local revitalization, and can contribute to the tourism industry, as well as local employment,” Nisaka said in a statement last month.

But other local leaders are opposed to hosting casinos, citing social problems associated with them.

“Sometimes, people in Kobe say ‘why don’t we get a casino?’ The fact is there are concerns about increased numbers of gambling addicts and the effect it would have on younger people,” Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto said last month. “I don’t plan to suggest to either the people or the business community that discussion on casinos begin.”

The question of whether to allow casinos is now a key issue in the Yokohama mayoral election, which is slated take place before August.

On Wednesday, former Democratic Party Lower House member Kazuyoshi Nagashima announced his candidacy by saying he was opposed to casino gambling. Incumbent Mayor Fumiko Hayashi, who is expected to receive the backing of the LDP, has indicated that she would welcome an IR facility.