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Japan made casinos legal for the first time and may make $30 billion a year in the processby Mike Denison
Economics & Business

"The world's leading operators regard Japan as a holy grail given the potential market size."

Research from CLSA, investment banking group

Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and gambling is technically legal. It also doesn't allow casinos. That changed Wednesday, after the nation's parliament approved a bill legalizing casinos.

Experts say this could create a $30-billion industry, CNN Money reports.

The bill was passed into law Wednesday.

"The issue is not whether gambling facilities are allowed or not. It is about measures to deal with gambling addiction."

Noriko Tanaka, SCAG secretary-general

Big casinos like Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts are excited, but many locals fear gambling addiction could damage Japanese society. 

A poll by Japanese broadcaster NHK found 44 percent of those surveyed opposed to legalizing casinos, with only 12 percent in favor.

And newspapers across the nation have opposed the bill.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has supported the bill. But CLSA said not to expect a new "mega-resort" opening until 2023 "at the earliest" while lawmakers hash out licensing fees and other details.

WATCH | It's technically legal to gamble in Japan, but it's limited to strictly regulated horse races and the gray area of pachinko, which has non-cash prizes exchanged for money under the table. Watch this Japan Online explanation of the game.

Here are some possible candidates for casinos locations.

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