U.S. casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. has announced its withdrawal from Japan’s casino-featured integrated casino resort project. Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi received the announcement calmly and stressed the city’s continued commitment to promote the IR project. Other IR operators, who are enthusiastic about the Yokohama project, also maintain their bids. But since the COVID-19 pandemic is casting a shadow on the casino industry, some casino operators are voicing concern about the business outlook.
The Yokohama Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which supports the city’s bid for the casino resort, commented: “We refrain from commenting on a decision by a firm.”
Sands’ withdrawal may give rival operators an advantage, but they are also taking the American firm’s decision calmly.
Hong Kong’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment CEO Lawrence Ho released a statement saying that “our Yokohama-first strategy remains unchanged.”
Genting Singapore and SegaSammy Holdings, the only Japanese firm seeking to win an operating license in Yokohama, also expressed their continued commitment in the Yokohama project.
But the pandemic is casting dark clouds on the casino industry and its prospects. A person with one operator expressed understanding for Sands’ decision, saying: “Casino operators are forced to review their business strategies as their resources are limited. We all need to exercise caution about new business plans.”
Meanwhile, a senior official with the Yokohama Harbor Transport Association, which oppose the city’s casino bid, commented that Sands’ withdrawal was “within expectations,” saying that “we had anticipated the withdrawal of an IR operator when the pandemic started.” With regards to 400 million yen that the municipal office allocated in the fiscal 2020 budget for IR bidding expenses, the person stressed that the money “should be distributed to local businesses hit by sagging sales due to the pandemic.” (Abridged)