"--IANS/EFE"
Tokyo, June 18 (IANS/EFE) The Japanese parliament started debating a law Wednesday that will make it possible to legalise casinos in Japan.

Analysts believe that if the law gets approved, Japan can become a bigger gambling market than even Las Vegas.

The bill was presented in December 2013 by some 200 members of parliament belonging to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and other groups like the conservative Japan Restoration Party.

The proposal seeks to authorise the construction of the so-called integrated complexes that combine casinos, hotels, luxury stores and large entertainment spaces such as theatres.

The MPs believe that the measure would increase the collection of revenues, thus improving the dismal state of the Japanese economy.

According to them, it would also boost the number of tourists in Japan as well as their spending in the country at a time when the government is considering granting one-year visas to travellers with high incomes.

Currently, Japan does not allow the construction or operation of casinos and only regards bets on horse, boat and bicycle racing as legal.

Even as the world waits to see if the country will give the green signal to casinos, US and Asian groups with presence in Las Vegas and Macao are contemplating huge investments in two integrated complexes being planned in the bays of Tokyo and Osaka, the second economic centre of the country.

Different analysis centres have pointed out that the approval of casinos could convert Japan into a gambling market valued between $30,000 and $10,000 million ($6,500 over and above what the Las Vegas strip was valued at last year).

This would make it second only to Macao.

However, the main opposition group, the Democratic Party and the Buddhist conservative New Komeito Party, the government's coalition partner, oppose the measure as they believe that it would increase crime rate in the peaceful Japanese society.

--IANS/EFE

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