David Beckham and Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh help Las Vegas Sands to woo Japan

  • Sands currently operates nine casino resorts worldwide
  • Japanese legislators are discussing casino legalization, but public opposition remains

It’s the stuff that isn’t about gambling that might count in the battle be among the first to build casinos in Japan. A little bit of help from global superstar David Beckham might help too.

David Beckham is helping Las Vegas Sands in its bid to break into the potentially lucrative Japan market
David Beckham is helping Las Vegas Sands in its bid to break into the potentially lucrative Japan market. Picture: Thinkstock/Brian MInkoff-London Pixels

Las Vegas Sands, one of the largest casino operators in the US, is keen to develop what they describe as world-class integrated resort in Japan, based around non-casino elements, including exhibition halls and other leisure and business facilities.

Speaking to The Nikkei on Wednesday, one of the company’s leading executives, George Tanasijevich, who would be likely to lead the development of a Japanese resort, said that the US casino giant was planning a resort that would dwarf the successful Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, of which Tanasijevich is the CEO.

David Beckham was on hand to state just what a good idea all of this new infrastructure would be for the Land of the Rising Sun. He is a global ambassador for the entertainment brand.

Even Joe Walsh, guitarist of the Eagles, was wheeled out to explain that Japan’s existing roster of concert venues would be improved with a Sands development.

Integrated resorts

Japan is going through the process of changing its laws to permit the operation of casinos in the country and last year passed a law that in principle legalized integrated casino resorts. But further legislative progress has been put on hold in the build up to elections for the lower house of the Japanese legislature, which will take place later this month.

Japanese public opinion remains resistant to casinos, so to gain sufficient political support, casino operators are concentrating on building integrated resorts that also offer other attractions such as concert halls, conference and leisure facilities.

Tanasijevich suggested that Sands’ investment in a Japanese integrated casino resort could amount to $10 billion, which would be company’s largest ever investment in a stand-alone resort, although this would be well within their means.

They’re queuing up

The casino industry in Japan has some wild estimates as to its worth, but nevertheless its proximity to China, as well as the potential for the domestic market, has the big players like Las Vegas Sands salivating.

Casinos amount to less than 3 percent of Las Vegas Sands’ business, which is largely made up of hotels, theatres, commercial facilities and exhibition halls. They currently operate nine integrated resort facilities globally, a list which includes the $5.6 billion Marina Bay resort.

Meanwhile, fellow U.S. company Hard Rock International, has also indicated that it is keen to expand into Japan, according to senior executive Edward Tracy.

Famous for its hospitality reputation Hard Rock runs restaurants hotels, casinos and other facilities around the world.

Hong Kong casino giant Melco, which already has a huge stake in the Macau market, is also wanting a place at the front of the queue if the legislative framework is right.

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