United States-based casino firm Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS) said in a press release onTuesday that it would “discontinue its pursuit of integrated resort (IR) development in Japan”.
That was a reference to Japan’s casino liberalisation process. Las Vegas Sands, the parent of Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd, and which also operates Marina Bay Sands casino resort in Singapore, had said in August last year it would focus on Tokyo and Yokohama in its effort to be allowed to build a casino resort in Japan.
In the update on the firm’s position, the group’s chairman and chief executive Sheldon Adelson (pictured) said: “While my positive feelings for Japan are undiminished, and I believe the country would benefit from the business and leisure tourism generated by an integrated resort, the framework around the development of an IR has made our goals there unreachable.”
A number of industry commentators has said that the range and amount of rules and regulations likely to be attached to a Japan casino resort – three will be permitted in a first phase of market liberalisation – might risk diminishing the attractiveness of such a scheme to international investors.
“We are grateful for all of the friendships we have formed and the strong relationships we have in Japan, but it is time for our company to focus our energy on other opportunities,” Mr Adelson was further quoted as saying in Tuesday’s announcement.
On the group’s first-quarter earnings call late last month, Mr Adelson said the firm was interested in pursuing merger and acquisition activity in Asia, though didn’t identify any targets. The entrepreneur had previously been on record saying he preferred to develop new resorts rather than acquire the assets of others.
Mr Adelson said in Tuesday’s announcement he remained “extremely bullish” about the future the company and “its growth prospects,” and noted it was committed to major spending in its existing Asian operations.
He added he thought the success of the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) model for casino resort business his firm had “pioneered” in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore would “ultimately be considered by other Asian countries, particularly as governments look to increase leisure and business tourism as a driver of economic growth”.
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Lei Wai Nong
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance