Las Vegas Sands pulls out from Japan integrated resort race

Gaming operator Las Vegas Sands has announced that it will discontinue its pursuit of Integrated Resort development in Japan due to the regulatory framework devised by the Japanese government.

“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,” Sands Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon G. Adelson. said in the announcement. 

‘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’

Sands was previously considered a frontrunner for an IR project in the country and was focused on developing an integrated resort in Tokyo or Yokohama, after stepping out of the race for a property in Osaka.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Japanese authorities have maintained that the tender period for integrated resorts would run from January 4 to July 30 of 2021, with several strict requirements for the properties having been put forward last year.

Resorts would only be permitted to have gambling facilities covering 3 per cent of the total floor space, at least 100,000 square metres to guest rooms, and must include cultural facilities that make them more attractive to tourists, such as theatres, music halls, cinemas, museums and restaurants.

The Japanese govenrment has also indicated that it would consider IR operator’s business soundness and financial stability, as well as how far it has forged close-knit ties with the local communities with operators having to commit to making use of its casino business profits to give back to the local community, while also ensuring that gambling risks can be contained.

The first resorts are not expected to open until 2024, with licences for three resorts provided initially and with Hokkaido, Chiba city, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, an alliance of Osaka Prefecture and Osaka city, Wakayama Prefecture and Nagasaki Prefecture all interested in seeing a project in their areas

Other gaming operators that have put their hats in the race include MGM, Hard Rock International, Genting, Melco Resorts and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment.

As with other gaming operators, China saw its revenues take a dive as a result of the pandemic, dropping 65.1 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year to some US$814 million (MOP6.5 billion).

‘I remain extremely bullish about the future of our company and its growth prospects.  We operate best-in-class properties in the leading markets in our industry and we are currently executing significant investment programs in both Macao and Singapore to create meaningful new growth from our existing portfolio,’ Adelson added.

‘We also believe the success of the MICE-based Integrated Resort model we pioneered in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore will ultimately be considered by other Asian countries, particularly as governments look to increase leisure and business tourism as a driver of economic growth’