Las Vegas Sands will almost certainly return to Japan if it considers the potential IR operating environment has changed, with locally-based gaming industry consultancy firm Bay City Ventures suggesting the company “did not leave Japan forever.”
The observation formed part of an update on Japan’s IR timeline sent to Inside Asian Gaming on Thursday in which Bay City Ventures Managing Director Joji Kokuryo outlines potential changes to the central government’s timeline for accepting applications and how that might impact candidate locations and their operator partners.
While all eyes are currently fixed on the four locations to have confirmed their intention to develop an IR – Yokohama, Osaka, Wakayama and Nagasaki – Kokuryo says there remain a handful of potential game changers waiting in the wings, most notably Tokyo and Las Vegas Sands.
LVS, which had been focusing its energies on Yokohama, withdrew from Japan’s IR race in May, with Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson stating, “The framework around the development of an IR has made our goals there unreachable.”
That could yet change, according to Kokuryo.
“Every IR operator has their own plans with unique financial formulas and different levels of pure optimism,” he said. “If any [other companies] were to leave Japan, it would be due to their own accumulative business outlook and evaluation of the market.
“If it makes business-sense, Sands will for sure be back. They did not leave Japan forever.”
One potential lure for LVS could be Tokyo, where Yuriko Koike was last week re-elected in what may well prove to be a decisive moment in the city’s long-term IR plan. While Koike has yet to commit either way when it comes to a Tokyo IR bid, Kokuryo says her re-election means that “the Olympics (recently postponed until 2021) and the national timeline for the IR” will now be two of the main variables in her decision.
Kokuryo notes that, despite talk of potential delays to the central government’s national timeline, particularly given it has yet to release its IR Basic Policy, any such decision remains largely with the opinions of candidate sites.
“The central government, more specifically the Japan Tourism Agency which falls under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, is currently in detailed dialogue with representatives of the candidate sites,” he said.
“They are continuously investigating the status of the local governments to make sure there are no hidden issues with the current timeline. This dialogue between the national and local sides aims to confirm the current schedule, but the possibility of a schedule change lies in the findings that these current investigations bring to the forefront.”