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Japan lawmakers begin debate on bill to allow casinos, in push to lure more foreign tourists

Japanese lawmakers have begun debate on a bill that would allow casino resorts in an attempt to attract more foreign tourists.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party favors the plan as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's strategy of boosting economic growth by doubling the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan to over 20 million by 2020.

Japan already has a thriving gambling industry based on "pachinko" pinball and slot machine arcades, lotteries and boat and horse racing. Opponents of the casino bill contend it could lead to an increase in gambling addiction, money laundering and organized crime.

Supporters of the bill say Singapore and Macau are good models for boosting tourism through lucrative casino resorts, and gambling tycoons have shown strong interest in investing in such projects.