Most of the top US casino companies are pushing hard to open a casino-resort in Japan. For months, many of these companies have expressed interest in launching a casino in Osaka. In an unexpected turn of events, Las Vegas Sands has announced that it’s no longer interested in this city.
Japan is expected to be one of the most lucrative new casino markets in the world. Now is a great time to look at why so many companies are working to operate here. We’ll also talk about the Sands’ decision to stay out of Osaka.
Japan Expected to be the World’s Next Major Casino Market
Historically speaking, Japan has been fiercely against the gambling industry. For decades, the only real form of wagering allowed here was Mahjong. Traditional casino-style gaming was strictly prohibited.
This includes online gambling, as well. Japanese lawmakers have cracked down on the internet gambling industry. The government blocks all foreign gambling sites from operating in the country. Anyone caught gambling over the internet here faces heavy fines and potential jail time.
Fortunately, the government is changing its stance on land-based casino gambling. In July of 2018, lawmakers in this country approved a bill to allow three “integrated resorts” to open. The casinos here must include a wide range of non-gambling amenities for guests. Before any casinos can open, cities in Japan must bid for the right to host one.
Several cities have already expressed interest in having a casino. Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka are three of the top choices right now. Interestingly, Las Vegas Sands is claiming that it’s no longer interested in launching a casino in Osaka.
Las Vegas Sands is Staying Away From Osaka
Osaka has been at the top of many gaming operators lists when it comes to potential casino sites. Officials here have announced that they will officially bid for casino hosting rights. Many companies, including MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts, have expressed interest in launching a new integrated resort here.
Las Vegas Sands is now choosing to avoid this city. Instead, the company will focus on other cities including Yokohama and Tokyo. It’s an interesting development, as the Sands was one of the first companies that pushed for a launch in Osaka.
CEO Sheldon Adelson gave a quick statement to the media about the switch. According to the Las Vegas Sands official, other cities offer more lucrative opportunities for the company.
Adelson claims that his company wants to “target new development opportunities that allow us to maintain our industry-leading returns on invested capital — and we think an investment in Tokyo or Yokohama gives us the best opportunity to do exactly that.”
Las Vegas Sands has engaged in talks with Osaka politicians for years. It’s a major surprise to see this company deciding to change its tune. Is Yokohama the main target now?
Yokohama Announced Bid to Host Japanese Casino
Yokohama is the second-most populous city in Japan. For months, politicians in this city maintained that they were not interested in opening a casino. Many residents here feared that opening a casino would increase crime and gambling addiction.
City officials are now backtracking. This week, Mayor Fukimo Hayashi announced that the city is officially asking for the government’s permission to open a casino.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to achieve growth and development, we need [an] IR,” she said.
Las Vegas Sands isn’t the only company now pushing to open a casino in Yokohama. MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts are now looking at this city as a potential casino location, as well.
As we mentioned earlier, only three casino licenses will be handed out here. Revenue from the casino industry is expected to total $20 billion a year. Some now believe that in time, Japan could overtake Macau as Asia’s top gambling destination.
There’s a lot going on here. The first Japanese casino isn’t expected to open until 2025. Make sure to stay tuned for more news on Japan’s gambling industry over the next few months!