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Las Vegas Sands Folds on Plans to Expand to Japan

Las Vegas Sands is folding its hand and walking away from its decades-long bet on expanding to Japan.

Las Vegas Sands  (LVS) - Get Las Vegas Sands Corp. Report, the world’s largest casino company, is folding its hand and walking away from its decades-long bet on expanding to Japan.

The owner of the Venetian and Palazzo resorts announced it will “discontinue its pursuit” of a gambling license in the country - something it has been vying for and negotiating with Japanese regulators since 2005.

The company, founded by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has been trying to expand in Japan but management objected to some terms of the country’s casino legislation, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

“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,” Adelson said in a statement.

According to Bloomberg, one of the biggest stumbling blocks was that the concession would be good for only 10 years, with much wiggle room for national or local government officials to change terms along the way.

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The company’s resorts in Macau and Singapore have licenses that extended for 20 and 30 years, respectively.

While not a gambling culture, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government did pass legislation in 2016 that would allow casino-resorts to operate in the country. So far three resorts are slated to open.

“It’s probably not a coincidence that Sands comes to this conclusion amid a pandemic,” Jay Defibaugh, an analyst at CLSA, told Bloomberg, pointing to the shutdown of some of the company’s resorts as part of efforts to curb the virus’s spread.

Las Vegas Sands, along with MGM Resorts  (MGM) - Get MGM Resorts International Report, Wynn Resorts  (WYNN) - Get Wynn Resorts, Limited Report and other casino-resort operators, shuttered their doors in mid-March as the pandemic swept across the United States. They have remained closed since.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands were down 1.06% at $45.52 in trading on Wednesday.