Las Vegas Sands ditches Osaka casino plan for Yokohama, Tokyo


las-vegas-sands-yokohama-japan-casinoCasino operator Las Vegas Sands is giving up on securing a Japanese integrated resort license in Osaka, choosing instead to focus its efforts on Tokyo and Yokohama.

On Thursday, Sands head honcho Sheldon Adelson came out of his self-imposed medical seclusion to announce that his company believes that “an investment in Tokyo or Yokohama gives us the best opportunity” to drive organic growth and make it rain for Sands shareholders.

As recently as last week, Sands had been doing its best to make nice with Osaka’s decision-makers, and was considered to be among the five “top” overseas hopefuls on Osaka’s resort casino shortlist.

But on Thursday, Adelson (pictured), who has missed the last two Sands earnings calls due to his receiving treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, thanked Osaka’s people and government for their “professionalism” but confirmed that Sands’ affections now lie elsewhere.

Adelson’s announcement came just hours after Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi confirmed the city’s intention to pursue one of what is expected to be a maximum of three integrated resort licenses.

Hayashi, who’d previously defined Yokohama as a “blank slate” on the casino question – in part due to staunch opposition by local residents – said Thursday that an integrated resort was “needed for us to leap forward” given that the city’s “fiscal condition [is] expected to be more severe.”

Sands wasn’t alone in declaring its newfound affection for Yokohama, as Melco Resorts & Entertainment CEO Lawrence Ho called the city “an extremely attractive site” for an integrated resort, thanks to its “location, communication links, vibrancy and pioneering spirit.”

You can likely expect much more of this Waylon Smithers-worthy toadying from casino kingpins until Japan’s leaders finally pull the trigger on this saga, which has been going on longer now than some of Kurosawa’s later epics.

Yokohama – Japan’s second-largest city – joins Osaka, Wakayama and Nagasaki in the ranks of areas that have formally stated their desire to host an integrated resort. Other major areas, including Tokyo and Hokkaido, are still playing coy.