Sands CEO says to spend 'whatever it takes' for Japan casino

TOKYO Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:02am EST

Las Vegas Sands Corp Chairman and Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson testifies on the witness stand at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Nevada April 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Scheid/Pool

Las Vegas Sands Corp Chairman and Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson testifies on the witness stand at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Nevada April 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jeff Scheid/Pool

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N) Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson said on Monday his company was willing to spend "whatever it takes" to set up a casino project in Japan, one of the largest untapped gaming markets in the world.

Las Vegas Sands is considered a strong candidate to win a license in Japan, should the country open its market to casino gambling, in large part due to the success of its resort in Singapore which has served as a model for Japanese lawmakers.

But with every major global operator targeting Japan, competition is sure to be fierce. U.S.-based MGM Resorts International (MGM.N), Malaysia's Genting Bhd (GENT.KL) and Macau casino venture Melco Crown Entertainment (6883.HK) are among those also pushing hard for a crack at the market.

"Would I put in $10 billion? Yes," Adelson said at a media briefing during an investor seminar in Tokyo. "Would I rather do it at 7? Yes."

Broker CLSA estimates Japan could generate $40 billion in gaming revenues a year, assuming two large integrated resorts are set up in Tokyo and Osaka and 10 smaller sites open across the country in places such as the northern island of Hokkaido and Okinawa to the south.

That would make Japan Asia's second-largest market for gambling after Macau, which the brokerage said is set to rake in $51 billion this year.

GOING IT ALONE?

Slot machine and game makers Sega Sammy Holdings (6460.T) and Konami Corp (9766.T) and broadcaster Fuji Media Holdings (4676.T) are among the Japanese companies that have shown an interest in the casino business.

When asked if he would take on Japanese companies as equity partners, Adelson said he "wouldn't be that happy" but he did not rule out the prospect.

He touted his company's industry-leading market capitalization of $66 billion and said Las Vegas Sands didn't need to bring in others to share the burden of investment.

"These people can't keep up. But I'm not ruling it out. I'm keeping my mind open to see whether or not a fair and reasonable partnership deal can be worked out," he said.

A group of Japanese lawmakers submitted an initial promotional bill to parliament in December to legalize gambling, with expectations that it will be debated around May. If that passes, the proposal will go into a second bill with concrete regulations, which proponents hope can be passed in 2016.

If this two-step legislation process goes smoothly, casino backers say the first resort could be opened in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Dominic Lau and Miral Fahmy)

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Comments (2)
njglea wrote:
“A group of Japanese lawmakers submitted an initial promotional bill to parliament in December to legalize gambling, with expectations that it will be debated around May.” If the Japenese people are smart they will not approve casinos in Japan unless they are government/employee owned enterprises where the profits go back into the community infrastructure instead of into the bloated pockets of Mr. Adelson et al. Those who want to gamble can simply play the stock markets – biggest craps tables in the world.

Feb 24, 2014 9:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
nortongaming wrote:
Sheldon knows a good thing when it surfaces, and Japan is just that. And he has the balance sheet to finance a $10 billion resort. Depending on what pencils out, based on the number of casinos allowed, the win tax rate and any other conditions that might affect earnings. Japan is one of Asia’s wealthiest Countries, and shares a penchant for various games of chance, like Pachinko, that produces $billions in revenues already.

Feb 24, 2014 7:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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