For Las Vegas Sands in Japan, All Attention Turns to Osaka License

Posted on: June 19, 2019, 08:25h. 

Last updated on: June 19, 2019, 08:49h.

With Tokyo readying for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Yokohama uninterested in being Japan’s casino gaming hub, a high-ranking Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) executive said his company will hone in on Osaka as it pursues plans to build an integrated resort in the land of the rising sun.

Las Vegas Sands exeuctive George Tanasijevich speaks with a reporter earlier this about the company’s plans in Japan. (Image: AGB Nippon)

George Tanasijevich, Sands managing director of global development, said an interview with Inside Asian Gaming that LVS thinks the “possibilities are very low for both cities (Tokyo and Yokohama) at this point.”

LVS, widely considered to be one of the frontrunners to land one of the three highly sought after Japanese gaming licenses, said last month it would not be interested in opening a casino in rural Japan. Home to about 2.67 million residents, Osaka is Japan’s third-largest city behind Tokyo and Yokohama.

Tanasijevich previously said Sands is eager to invest in Japan, Asia’s second-largest economy, but only if it can operate a gaming venue near a highly populated area that is also easily accessible from other major cities.

Due to its vast network of bridges and canals, some travelers refer to Osaka as “the Venice of the East” and the port city is home to numerous tourist destinations, including Osaka Castle and the Aquarium Kaiyukan.

Familiar Rivals

Companies competing with Sands for one of the highly desired Japanese gaming licenses include Genting Singapore Ltd., Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts and a local syndicate from Osaka.

MGM Resorts, a rival to Sands in Las Vegas and Macau, was one of the first gaming companies to makes its Osaka intentions known. Melco Resorts is one of the other companies believed to have a preference to open an integrated resort in Japan’s third-largest city.

While Tanasijevich has previously been complimentary of Osaka, noting Sands’ business style would fit well in the city, neither he nor LVS have been as overt about their preference for that city as MGM. MGM and its partner Orix, a Japanese financial services firm, have what amounts to an “all or nothing” bid to procure a gaming license in the city.

Tanasijevich told Inside Asian Gaming that the local Osaka government “has made it very clear what kind of IR they are looking for.”

A Reminder?

Sands has deep ties to Japan. Founder and CEO Sheldon Adelson sold the Comdex technology trade show to Japanese financial services conglomerate and venture capital firm Softbank for $800 million in 1995.

Still, LVS is looking to strut its stuff in Asia, potentially reminding Japan that it is one of the region’s premier casino operators. Just days after a gaming analyst in the region said Japan would like to emulate the style and success of Singapore’s two gaming venues, news broke that Marina Bay Sands, LVS’s posh property there, is on the prowl for up to $5.86 billion in loans to build a fourth tower.

By some estimates, Marina Bay Sands is the world’s most profitable casino and it was 2017’s “most Instagramed” hotel. News of the Sands’ plan to add to its Singapore venue comes as rival Genting Singapore is looking to expand its Resorts World property there, a project that could cost $3.27 billion.

Tanasijevich is among the guests slated to speak at conference in Tokyo early next month addressing Japanese integrated resorts and related business issues.