Japan’s Abe lauds benefits of casinos during Singapore trip

Fri May 30, 2014 10:23am EDT
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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said casino resorts could become a pillar of his country's future economic growth as he toured Singapore's two lavish gaming venues on Friday.

Abe, who until now has remained silent on the issue of casinos, gave a strong endorsement to legislation that would legalize casino gambling in Japan.

"I think integrated resorts will be a key part of Japan's economic growth strategy," he was quoted by Japanese media as saying.

Japan, the world's third-largest economy, is considering allowing casino gambling to boost tourism and attract investment.

The country is widely seen as a prize market for casino operators due to its affluent population of 128 million and its close proximity to wealthy Asian gamblers in the region.

Abe visited the Marina Bay Sands, a three-tower resort on the Singapore waterfront owned by U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands LVS.N, surprising tourists sunning themselves by the infinity pool on the rooftop as he appeared in a suit with members of the media in tow.

He then headed to Resorts World on Sentosa island, owned by Genting Singapore GENS.SI.

Abe, who was visiting Singapore to deliver a speech at a regional defense conference, said he hoped Japanese lawmakers would carefully consider the benefits casino resorts could bring.

"I would like them to deliberate with a perspective on what needs to be done to bolster Japan's attractiveness, and how to get people to visit," Japanese media quoted him as saying.   Continued...

A dealer picks up chips on a mock black jack casino table during a photo opportunity at an international tourism promotion symposium in Tokyo September 28, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino