Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands to invest $10 billion in new Japanese casino resort

  • Will include casino, entertainment, accommodation and restaurants
  • Construction planned for 2019 with properties scheduled to open in 2023
  • Questions over whether Japanese growth will threaten Macau’s dominance

Sheldon Adelson, Chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, has announced plans to invest $6 – $10 billion in a new gaming resort at an investor conference in Toyko.

Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo: Next stop for Adelson’s empire?

Referring to Japan as the ‘ultimate of business opportunities’ the tycoon is hoping to get the jump on rivals such as Wynn Resorts, Melco Crown and MGM resorts, which are also looking to launch integrated resorts. He hopes to break ground on the project in 2019 with the first properties to open in 2023.

The move comes after a recent change was made to Japanese law in late-2016 allowing for the legalization of casino gambling.

While the new law has met fierce opposition at home – most Japanese are against the bill – the government has made the argument that it is needed to boost a stagnant economy. Analysts believe the Japanese casino market could generate as much as $40 billion a year.

“It would be shocking if Japan doesn’t become the No. 2 market in Asia on an overnight basis once big resorts open.”
Grant Govertsen, market analyst at Union Gaming

Due to public disagreement with the bill efforts have been made to slowly integrate the change. Though casino gambling is now technically legal in Japan, law makers have stated it will take another year to draft an additional bill dealing with the regulatory framework for such businesses to operate. The bill will also try to reconcile potential issues with money laundering and gambling addiction.

Additionally, the Japanese government is likely to only hand out two or three licenses at first, to monitor their effects, before allowing for broader competition. This is almost certainly going to lead to fierce competition between some of the biggest names in the gaming world.

Grant Govertsen, an analyst at Union Gaming, an investment firm specializing in gambling, commented, “For the investment community, Japan is seen as the crown jewel of Asian gaming development outside of Macau. It would be shocking if Japan doesn’t become the No. 2 market in Asia on an overnight basis once big resorts open.”

Over 20 million foreign tourists have made visits to Japan this year, triple the number from the past ten years, many from China. As such it is almost certain that Japan’s move into resort gambling is likely to be a threat to Asia’s biggest gaming market Macau.

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