In its eternal quest to prove it has the longest stick in the yard, Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands has dropped the gauntlet on all other casino operators sniffing around Japan, announcing its plan to spend “whatever it takes” to build a casino in Japan in the event the country finally passes legislation to legalize it.
Of course, by “whatever it takes”, Sands’ actual price tag is $10 billion, a still staggering number that would be double than what Melco Crown announced its budget in Japan would be. In his usual braggadocios way, Adelson even told a media briefing in Tokyo that his company would pay “all cash” to build its casino, a clear muscle-flexing move that should give other prospective operators reason to sweat.
If the promise of billions spent isn’t enough, Adelson also announced that Sands has already begun the process of establishing offices in the country and at the moment, is set to commence hiring prospective employees. The Sands chairman also made it clear that if the company does get the green light to build a casino, it’ll only consider metropolitan cites like Tokyo and Osaka since these places are some of the most popular destinations for tourists and locals alike. It’s not at all surprising that Sands would rub its nose on locations like Okinawa because human traffic in those places don’t compare to the country’s mega cities.
It’s a typical Sands move because the company has always been inclined to develop enormous resorts that are more than just hotels and casinos. “Adelson’s usual development model is to build a large-scale resort that includes convention centers and shopping malls,” D.S. Kim, a regional gaming analyst at BNP Paribas based in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg.
“He’d only consider metropolitan cities with wealthy population and infrastructure which can support heavy visitor traffic.”
To be fair, if there’s a company that can live up to its boasts, it’s Las Vegas Sands. It definitely helps that Adelson is the ninth richest dude in the world with a net worth of $38.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. But more importantly, LVS has the cache to back up its promise of spending $10 billion in Japan because of its status as one of the world’s biggest casino operators. It’s already the biggest foreign operator in Macau, a place that accounted for 61 percent of the company’s adjusted earnings for the entire year. So yeah, $10 billion isn’t a big deal for Sheldy, especially if it translates to a strong presence in a prospective casino market that’s already being touted as the second biggest market in the world next to Macau.
It’s unclear whether another operator is willing to trump Adelson’s $10 billion. Some have already indicated spending huge amounts of money without specifically setting a figure, so until somebody announces they’re earmarking more than what Sands has announced, the benchmark will be that number.
Care to top that, fellas?