About five days ago, rumors surfaced that President Trump had promoted the Las Vegas Sands (LVS) casino company as a favorite for an integrated resort (IR) license when Japan starts approving the operations. He allegedly told Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, during a meeting in February that LVS was an ideal candidate for an IR and that its and founder and CEO, Sheldon Adelson, was the right man to lead the way in Japan. Now, a Japanese government official has spoken out and said that the conversation between Trump and Abe never happened.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters this past Thursday that the rumors weren’t true, according to Japan Times. He pointed out that the prime minister had already denied the rumors in July, stating that the conversation never took place. Suga was referring to comments made by Abe during a government session when the subject was brought up, in which he confirmed that there was no such conversation.
Nikkei Asian Review published a story on the comments in June, prior to the prime minister’s denial. However, the rumors resurfaced in a piece presented by ProPublica last week. A representative for LVS said in response to the ProPublica piece that the company was more than likely among the favorites to be chosen once Japan begins issuing IR licenses, but said that it was not involved in any lobbying efforts from President Trump.
It’s no secret that the casino mogul and Trump are friends. Adelson has donated large amounts of money to several legislative political action committees (PAC) this year, including around $30 million in May that he and his wife, Miriam, gave to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that was created to try and keep Republicans in control of the House. According to a report from the New York Times last month, Adelson has contributed over $55 million to support Republicans ahead of November’s mid-term elections.
Japan only approved legislation for IRs this year following an internal battle between lawmakers that resulted in the government having to work overtime to reach an agreement. There is still no word on when the license approval process could begin or how it will work, but movement is expected by the end of this year. Even after operators are determined, it will probably be another five or six years before the first casino is seen on the Japanese landscape.