TOKYO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - A contentious bill to legalise casinos in Japan cleared a key parliamentary panel on Tuesday, essentially assuring its enactment into law, paving the way for high-stakes gambling in the world's third-biggest economy.
Brushing off concerns - even from within Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition - over gambling addiction and other social ills, lawmakers in an upper house committee approved the bill. It had failed repeatedly in previous parliaments to come up for a vote.
Domestic and international companies from MGM Resorts International to Japanese game-machine maker Sega Sammy Holdings Inc could benefit from legalised casinos in Japan, a market that brokerage CLSA estimates could be worth up to $40 billion a year.
Given the Abe coalition's strong majority in the upper house, the bill is almost certain to be approved by the full chamber on Wednesday, the last day of this session. It previously cleared the lower house.
$1 = 115.3700 yen Reporting by Thomas Wilson; Editing by William Mallard