Japan could finally pass a long-awaited bill with the potential to transform the country into an international gaming destination, providing a fillip for the stumbling economy.
Gambling is officially illegal in the world's third-largest economy but the betting culture is widespread, most visibly reflected in the pachinko halls—arcade-style outlets where players can win money depending on the games' outcome—that dot city streets.
Now, after years of being sidelined, a bill to introduce integrated resorts (IRs), with hotels, casinos, malls and other entertainment facilities, stands a chance of being debated in parliament before year-end.
"This time, it's 100 percent happening," Kotaro Tamura, a Milken Institute fellow, told CNBC's The Rundown.
The government's increased political capital and its goal of boosting inbound tourism are two key factors that distinguish this push from previous years, explained Tamura, a former senator and parliamentary secretary for economic and fiscal policy at Japan's Cabinet Office.
Three pro-casino officials were promoted to top spots when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in August.
Toshihiro Nikai was appointed secretary-general, Hiroyuki Hosoda became General Council chairman and Toshimitsu Motegi was named policy chief. The three reportedly held a meeting Thursday in which they confirmed their intention to have the bill passed during the current parliamentary session, which ends on Nov. 30.