Australian billionaire James Packer is no longer pursuing his dream of building a multi-billion dollar integrated resort in Japan.
This is according to the Straits Times, which reported that Crown Resorts is no longer interested in expanding into the Japanese casino market and has instead chose to focus on developing Crown Resorts’ flagship Sydney casino.
Crown is undergoing restructuring as a result of the relentless Chinese crackdown that has reduced VIP high rollers’ gambling.
The Australian-listed company sold the last of its stake in Melco Resorts & Entertainment in May, as Packer and Chinese billionaire Lawrence Ho said their last adieu to a decade-long partnership in Macau. Packer said leaving Melco is part of the casino operator’s restructuring program.
It would be more practical, according to Packer, to give up his Japan casino dream in order for Crown’s management not to be “distracted” from restructuring by participating in any competitive bidding process.
Packer has accepted the fact that it isn’t realistic for Crown to win a license in Japan.
“It is off my table. But I am only one director and I haven’t had the conversation with the board,” Packer said, according to the news report. “I am not saying ‘no forever’, but what I am saying ‘no’ to is writing a AUD500 million (US$391 million) or AUD1 billion ($783 million) check to go into Japan next week.”
Moving forward, Packer said that the company intends to focus on its casinos in Melbourne and Perth, as well as the construction of the AUD2.4 billion ($1.88 billion) integrated resort in Sydney. He touted the planned Sydney gaming resort as the “most important building built in Australia for a long time.”
Abe’s victory a win for Japan casinos
Speaking of Japan, casino operators are likely to be celebrating the landslide victory of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition.
Bloomberg reported that the casino industry will be one of the likely beneficiaries of Sunday’s election results in Japan. The ruling coalition has retained its two-thirds majority in the lower house, which will likely help mute critics of the casino plans.
With Abe’s victory and Packer out in the picture, major casino operators like Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd. are likely to be in a celebratory mood.