Sheldon Adelson Says Sands in ‘Leading Position’ for Japan Casino License

Posted on: July 26, 2018, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: July 26, 2018, 08:51h.

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson believes his Las Vegas Sands empire is the frontrunner for licensure in Japan.

Sheldon Adelson Japan casino
Sheldon Adelson feels Las Vegas Sands has the shortest odds on claiming a casino license in Japan. (Image: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Talking with investors this week on the company’s second-quarter conference call, Adelson said his long business ties with the Asian country give Sands an upper hand in obtaining one of the three coveted casino licenses. The 84-year-old sold Comdex, a computer expo trade show held in Las Vegas and international cities including Tokyo, to Japanese conglomerate SoftBank in 1995 for $800 million.

Everybody says, local Japanese, business people, banks, we have the leading position in Japan because of my background,” Adelson opined. “I used to produce the Comdex show in Japan, and I also helped them to redesign the biggest exhibition center they have in Japan called Makuhari Messe.”

Located just east of Tokyo adjacent to Tokyo Disney Resort, Makuhari Meese is a nearly 900,000-square-foot facility. “I’ve got a good background and reputation in Japan for being the leading MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) integrated resort developer and operator,” Adelson concluded.

Adelson has said in the past he would never retire. His fortune is estimated to be worth more than $40 billion.

Bidding War Underway

Japan’s National Diet approved its integrated resorts (IR) measure last week. The legislation authorizes three commercial casinos, and fiscal estimates project the properties will collectively produce annual gross gambling revenues of $21 billion within the next 10 years.

That would make Japan the second-richest gambling country in Asia behind only Macau. Casinos in the Chinese Special Administrative Region made $33.2 billion last year.

Following the news that the Japan IR law had passed, US casino operators Sands, MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts all announced plans to obtain one of the authorizations. Macau licensees Melco Resorts and Galaxy Entertainment, as well as Genting Group, are also readying to make proposals.

Gaming analysts have long thought Sands and MGM to be the most likely candidates for licensure.

Setting Odds

Japan’s IR bill requires casino operators come “with high morals, a sense of responsibility, and clean nature.” With the authorization of gambling still unpopular among Japanese citizens, lawmakers also want companies to have proven track records managing properties around the world.

The mandates might hurt Caesars, a company that has been primarily focused on the US, and Wynn, a company that recently endured a sex scandal that rocked the business and led to its founder’s resignation.

Sands operates multibillion-dollar resorts in the US, China, and Singapore. Its $8 billion Marina Bay Sands has become the gold standard for IR development.

Marina Bay Sands continues to serve as a powerful reference site for merging jurisdictions that are considering large scale integrated resort developments,” Adelson stated.

He added that Sands has “a pioneering track record, unmatched development expertise, and financial strength that puts us in a leading position to take advantage of the most promising new development opportunities to have arrived.”

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren says his company is also “well-positioned” in Japan, and has spent years “becoming immersed in Japanese culture.”