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Japanese PM tours Singapore casinos, eyes legalisation

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe toured Singapore's two gaming resorts on Friday as his government considers legalising casino gambling to give the country's economy a much-needed boost.

SINGAPORE: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe toured Singapore's two gaming resorts on Friday as his government considers legalising casino gambling to give the country's economy a much-needed boost.

Abe arrived in the city-state for a weekend Asian security summit and headed straight to the massive Marina Bay Sands (MBS) complex after landing at Changi Airport.

The premier also inspected the Resorts World Sentosa, a casino setup operated by Malaysia's Genting Group, the Japanese embassy in Singapore said.

Lawmakers in Japan have been talking about legalising casinos for years but the idea gained ground when Abe was elected in December 2012 pledging to revitalise the economy.

Brokerage firm CLSA said in a report last year that Japan had the potential to become one of the largest gaming jurisdictions in the world, surpassed perhaps only by Macau.

Rajiv Biswas, chief Asia Pacific economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "The development of casinos in Japan could contribute significantly to tourism industry growth.

"Which is why PM Abe is keen to get a detailed overview of the two Singapore resort casinos.

"If the Japanese government is able to pass legislation to allow the building of at least two casino resorts in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, this could add 0.2 per cent to Japanese annual GDP growth during the construction phase," he added.

Jonathan Galaviz, a partner at US-based Global Market Advisors, LLC said: "Japan needs to boost the tourism industry. The integrated resort model, that includes a casino, is an important piece of that equation."

Japan's gross domestic product grew 1.5 per cent in the first quarter of this year, official data showed.

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