Adelson would spend $10B on Japan casino

Feb 24, 2014 8:11 PM

Japanese lawmakers haven’t yet approved casino gambling but that hasn’t stopped the world’s largest gaming companies from making an early pitch for the one or two licenses expected to be authorized.

And when it comes to money, billionaire Sheldon Adelson steps to the forefront. Over the weekend, Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), was quoted as saying he would spend $10 billion or “whatever it takes” to secure a license.

Insiders note LVS has the inside track for a casino license in Japan because of its operation in Singapore. Reportedly, the Japanese lawmakers have been using Sands’ Singapore operation as a model.

But, that won’t stop opponents from joining the fray. Some say a license in Japan is the only way Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CZR) can hope to enter the Asian gaming market. Unfortunately, Caesars filed to make an early pitch for a casino concession or sub-concession license in Macau. Later efforts failed, despite a major investment in a golf course, and Caesars missed out on what has become the world’s largest gambling market.

Detracting from the Caesars’ effort is the company’s financial condition, which shows debt in excess of $23 billion.

Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN), a major winner with its Macau operation, will be among the leaders in the push for a license. The company has an excellent track record in Macau and sports a clean balance sheet.

Also throwing its weight around in Japan will be Genting Malaysia Berhard, a multi-billion gaming and real estate company with operations in several different countries, including the U.S. with the slots parlor at Aqueduct racetrack in New York City.

And Lawrence Ho, whose Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. (MPEL) already has formidable gaming positions in Macau and the Philippines, has been making a strong effort to break into the Japanese market.

Indications are Japan will approve two casinos, one in Tokyo, to boost attendance at the 2020 Olympics, and a second in Osaka.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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