Las Vegas Sands decides against poker room in Japan

Posted on: May 13, 2020 08:53 PDT

Las Vegas Sands Corp is giving up on the Japanese market, ending its pursuit of a license to operate in the country. The announcement ends a multi-decade journey to nab one of the most coveted gambling prizes in the business.

“We are grateful for all of the friendships we have formed and the strong relationships we have in Japan, but it is time for our company to focus our energy on other opportunities,” Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson said in a statement.

While the announcement comes at a time when the land-based gambling market is in a tailspin due to property closures in response to COVID-19, that’s not the whole story.

The company, which was founded by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, had been pursuing a license since 2005. But in their pursuit, they hit a number of roadblocks, including the fact that the license would be good for a span of just 10 years. Las Vegas Sands operates properties in Macau and Singapore with 20-year-and 30-year licenses.

Adelson had hoped to spend $10 billion on a resort that would have included hotels, meeting spaces, and gambling, including poker.

The announcement collides with a new poker reality, in which poker players have transitioned to online play. Traffic at some of the biggest online poker sites are at an all-time high, with prize pools often eclipsing what’s guaranteed.

The announcement that Las Vegas Sands is no longer interested in the Japanese market could push more players to the online world, an interesting notion given the fact that Adelson has been one of online poker’s biggest opponents.

Adelson is behind the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, a group dedicated to stop online poker and online casinos from serving US players. That includes offshore operators and those operating in state-regulated markets.

Many have called out Adelson’s hypocrisy, given the fact that online gambling sites do an arguably better job of keeping minors off the site than his own B&M properties, which is one of Adelson’s main talking points.