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Japan looks to casinos to invigorate economy

Japan, where gambling is currently illegal, is seen as an untapped market for Asian casinos.

By Ed Adamczyk

TOKYO , May 15 (UPI) -- As legislation to legalize gambling is processed in Japan's parliament, a major conference on the future of casinos began in Tokyo this week.

The pro-gambling activities suggest Japan, where gambling is currently illegal, will soon turn development of a large-scale gambling industry to support its faltering economy.

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"There is ample chance that the bill will be debated in parliament (soon) and will be passed by both houses," said Toru Mihara of the Osaka University of Commerce and a speaker at the gambling conference.

The cities of Tokyo and Osaka look to Singapore as a model for success, as casinos bring in tax revenue and set the stage for tourism, meetings and a thriving retail industry.

According to Grant Govertsen, a gaming analyst, the Japanese government is considering the 2020 Olympics inTokyo, as well as "integrated resorts" featuring gambling and luxury vacations, "in terms of elevating Japan's tourism presence and then really going after foreign inbound visitors."

Casinos are being built across Asia, and Japan is being seen as an untapped market. Interest from casino companies in Las Vegas and in Asia is evident, and as soon as the government allows it, a bidding process will begin to build what could be the most expensive resorts ever constructed.

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