Officials with Las Vegas Sands (LVS) are hoping to make a huge financial bet on Japan — saying they will spend “whatever it takes” to set up a casino in what industry insiders consider one of the best untapped gaming markets in the world.
Las Vegas Sands is considered to be a frontrunner to build the first gaming resort there — as its resort in Singapore has been touted by Japanese lawmakers as a business model in the push to legalize gambling.
“Would I put in $10 billion? Yes,” Reuters quoted Las Vegas Sands Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson as saying at a media briefing during an investor seminar in Tokyo. “…We could pay all cash. We don’t have to, but we will borrow money in a typical mortgage-to-value ratio.”
His comments come as Japan is set to soon begin debate on gaming in the country.
Japanese lawmakers have already put forth a bill to parliament that would legalize gambling, with debate to begin sometime in the spring session.
Should the bill pass, regulations would need to be added to a second bill, which proponents think should be moved forward and completed by 2016.
Other global gaming operations are sure to set their sights on Japan in the coming months: Those already expressing interest include MGM Resorts International, Malaysia’s Genting Bhd and Macau’s Melco Crown Entertainment.
And, of course, entertainment companies inside Japan will likely get first dibs on some of the more lucrative contracts.
Adelson said that while the Sands would not need backers or a partnership with a Japanese company, he would not rule out such an arrangement.
Already the Sands has begun opening offices and hiring in Japan.
Casino proponents say that the first casinos — with a little luck — would be operational in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
LVS stock is up 61% from this time last year.