Sheldon Adelson (pictured), chairman and chief executive of casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp, said on Tuesday that a casino resort in Japan could cost up to US$10 billion to build, reports news agency Reuters.
“It would be at least what we paid in Singapore, US$6 billion including the land, but it could be as much as US$10 billion,” Mr Adelson was quoted as saying. U.S.-based Las Vegas Sands developed and operates the Marina Bay Sands casino property in Singapore.
Mr Adelson was speaking on Tuesday at CLSA’s Japan Forum, an investor conference in Tokyo organised by brokerage CLSA Ltd. The executive had said previously that he expected Japanese integrated resorts to be modelled after Marina Bay Sands, which could benefit Las Vegas Sands.
Legislation making casino gambling legal in Japan came officially into effect on December 26, although investment analysts have said that it could be beyond the year 2021 before the first Japanese casino resort opens.
That is because after approval of the enabling bill legalising casino resorts at the conceptual level, a second piece of legislation has now to be passed, detailing the specifics with respect to licensing, investment, location and taxation.
Speaking on a conference call with analysts in late January, Mr Adelson had said he believed that Las Vegas Sands was well positioned to compete for a casino licence in Japan. “We believe our pioneering track record of creating the MICE-based integrated resort, our development experience and our financial strength put us in the pole position to take advantage of an opportunity in Japan,” he stated.
Most major global casino operators have expressed an interest in developing an integrated resort – including a casino – in Japan, including MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts Ltd, Genting Singapore Plc and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.
In a December report, credit rating firm Fitch Ratings Inc said U.S.-based gaming operators were well positioned in terms of balance sheet to deal with the scale of investment that might be required to build a casino resort in Japan.
Brokerage CLSA has estimated that a Japanese casino industry – with just two resorts in major cities – could generate US$10 billion in annual revenue, growing to US$25 billion with more locations, Reuters reported.
The major cities of Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka have been mentioned in media reports and analysts’ notes as leading contenders for large-scale casino resorts.
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”Back in March, we decided that until there’s more clarity on what the business is going to look like, what the world is going to look like, and what the regulations really are over there, we’re pretty much ceasing our efforts [in Japan regarding pursuit of a casino project]”
Group chief executive of casino operator Wynn Resorts