Las Vegas Sands Corp Still Open To Venturing Into Japanese Casino Market
A Japanese marketing consultancy firm believes that the recent exit of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) from the nascent Japanese legal gambling industry does not necessarily mean it has shut the door on Japan forever.
A report on the status of gambling legalization in Japan released by Bay City Ventured Ltd. (BCV) noted that that LVS may attempt to enter the Japanese market in the future, when conditions are better for them.
During LVS’ withdrawal from the bidding process for a Japanese integrated resort, its chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson stated that LVS felt that their goals would not be met in Japan. LVS is the biggest casino operator in the world and had been very keen on establishing an integrated casino resort in Japan. The fact that LVS decided to drop out of the race does not bode well for the Japanese market.
A number of industry experts and observers believe that LVS’ decision was likely caused by the murkiness of Japan’s plans with respect to gambling regulation. No information on how Japan plans to regulate its casino industry was ever released, which may have scared LVS away.
Japan’s Gambling Rules Still up in the Air
Along with the vast majority of gambling firms, LVS has suffered tremendous losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic cutting into their revenues. The massive cost of building an integrated resort in Japan (estimated at $10 billion) may prevent many firms from committing without knowing the precise regulations that will govern their local operations.
Japan currently is in its first phase of liberalization for its gambling market. Three resorts will be allowed during this phase. The first six months of 2021 are already booked for local governments’ applications to host an integrated resort to be reviewed. The deadline for this process is on July 2021.
Local Governments Prepare for Bids
Local governments and their respective integrated resort partners are rapidly approaching the application process and following a draft set of guidelines released in September 2019. The Japanese government has so far not provided clear guidance on the process. According to a spokesperson, the government is currently canvassing opinions from local governments regarding their upcoming applications, to ascertain their progress.
BCV noted that the government may order an extension on the deadline if they find that local governments’ bids had been delayed by COVID-19.