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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows as the regulatory bill on integrated resorts passes at the House of Representatives in Tokyo on Tuesday. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)
Multinationals in Asia

World's casino giants bet big on the golden Japanese market

Government legalizes gambling despite strong public opposition

ERI SUGIURA, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- Foreign casino operators are salivating over the prospect of finally winning access to the world's third-biggest economy. They estimate that the Japanese casino market could be worth 1.75 trillion yen ($15.8 billion) a year when resorts are opened in three cities, surpassing Nevada's $11.1 billion.

Opponents have waged a decade-long campaign against legalizing casinos in a nation that already has 5 million addicts to pachinko, a form of vertical pinball slot machine. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has waved critics aside, his eye set on the tourism-boosting potential of so-called integrated resorts -- developments featuring a casino along with hotels, other entertainment and conference facilities.

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