Japanese officials have approved controversial plans to build the country’s first gambling resort.
The complex will open in the western city of Osaka in 2029.
Casinos have long been illegal in Japan. But a law was passed in 2018 providing exceptions to games, such as poker or baccarat, to create jobs and boost tourism.
Public opinion has been split, with some concerned about a rise in crime and gambling addiction.
Besides the casino, the 5.3 million square-foot (49ha) complex will include a hotel, conference centre, shopping mall and museum.
“We hope (the casino) will become a tourism base that promotes Japan’s charms to the world,” according to Prime Minster Fumio Kishida.
The project has an initial investment of 1.8tn yen ($13.5bn, £10.7bn) with US-based casino operator MGM and Japan’s Orix Group each owning a 40% stake in the company.
The other 20% will be owned by local companies such as West Japan Rail, Kansai Electric Power and Osaka-based Panasonic.
Officials expect the resort to attract around 20 million visitors annually and bring in roughly 1tn yen in annual economic benefits to the region, according to a Japanese news service.
The project was proposed years ago, but it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a corruption scandal involving a ruling-party lawmaker who was accused of accepting bribes while in charge of casino policy.
Japan is seen a promising market for gambling. It is the world’s third largest economy with a population of roughly 126 million.
It also has close proximity to wealthy Asian gamblers, particularly from China. Macau is the only Chinese city where casino gambling is legal.
A similar plan has been submitted by the Nagasaki prefecture to build a casino at Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch-themed theme park.