Las Vegas Sands drops out of bidding for a casino license in Japan

May 13, 2020 11:42 AM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
May 13, 2020 11:42 AM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports

Las Vegas Sands ended its long pursuit of an integrated resort license in Japan, an effort the casino giant once said it would spend up to $10 billion to $12 billion to win.

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In a statement late Tuesday, the company said it was focusing on its expansions of existing resorts in Macau and Singapore, where it is spending $5.5 billion to renovate various properties.

The news is not completely surprising. In August last year, Las Vegas Sands pulled out of the bidding for an integrated resort license in Osaka to focus on either the Tokyo region or Yokohama.

In October, company President Rob Goldstein said he was no longer sure investing in a Japan casino penciled out.

In a statement Tuesday, Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson said his “fondness for the Japanese culture and admiration for the country’s strength as a tourism destination” goes back more than 30 years to when he operated COMDEX computer tradeshows in Japan.

“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,” Adelson said.

“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,” Adelson added.

In 2018, the company was singing a much different tune. Adelson said on an earnings call that Las Vegas Sands had “the leading position” in Japan. Pro Publica reported a few months later that President Donald Trump had personally lobbied Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on behalf of Adelson to “strongly consider” Las Vegas Sands for one of the licenses.

The legislation passed in Japan for the three prospective integrated resort complexes calls for casinos, hotels, restaurants, and non-gaming attractions, such as retail, conference facilities, and entertainment. However, the formal request for proposal has slowed considerably and the government has not officially settled on locations.

Last year, Caesars Entertainment withdrew from the Japanese process entirely due to the company’s $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands will focus on its existing resorts in Macau and Singapore, which, combined, provide the company approximately 85 percent of its total quarterly revenue stream.

In Macau, more than $2 billion will be spent on the renovation, expansion, and rebranding of its Sands Cotai Central complex into The Londoner Macau, a London-themed resort first announced in 2017. Sands will also spend $400 million for the 370-suite St. Regis Tower Suites and $450 million for the 290-suite Four Seasons Tower Suites, both of which are expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2020.

Las Vegas Sands said it would spend $3.3 billion on Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, which includes a 15,000-seat arena, a 1,000-room hotel, and additional convention space. Expansion to the resort’s casino – one of two in the island nation – is not part of the project.

“I remain extremely bullish about the future of our company and its growth prospects,” Adelson said. “We are currently executing significant investment programs in both Macau and Singapore to create meaningful new growth from our existing portfolio.”

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.