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Japanese casinos are a real gamble

Tokyo has a lot to tempt operators but it is late entering a crowded Asian market

Is Japan coming too late to the party?

For two decades, Las Vegas billionaires salivated over the idea of casinos in Japan. Arguably, only China holds greater potential than the affluent, gambling-crazy East Asian archipelago.

Tokyo may hate to admit it, but betting -- on pachinko, horses, cycling, speedboats -- has long been among Japan's biggest industries by revenue. Letting Vegas and Macau moguls open green-felt tables in the third-biggest economy is a natural extension of this obsession. Potentially profitable, too, now that Japan's lower house has legalized a market of nearly $16 billion a year.

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