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Las Vegas Sands Bets on Japan

Las Vegas Sands is looking to expand into Japan, according to reports.



) --

Las Vegas Sands


is placing bets on Japan.

The casino operator plans on expanding its Macau-based Sands China into Japan, which it predicts could become Asia's largest gaming market,


reported, citing Sands China's CEO Steve Jacobs. Las Vegas Sands has already been approach by local gaming firms in Japan.

If Japan legalizes gaming, the first casino could open in the country around 2014 or 2015, Reuters reported.

Asia, specifically Macau, has been the focus of casino operators as gaming remains weak in the U.S. In the first quarter Sands Macau, which has three casinos in the Chinese gambling enclave, saw its profit quadruple to $110.5 million from $26.7 million in the year prior.

Revenue at Sands China shot up 24% to $944 million from $761.7 million in the year-ago period.

MGM Mirage


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also posted growth in the first quarter in Macau, swinging to a profit of $49 million compared with a loss of $5 million last year.

The company, which currently operates the bulk of its casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, is currently in the process of completing an initial public offering of its Macau assets. It also announced that it is changing its name to MGM Resorts International to reflect its growing focus on overseas expansion.

Wynn Resorts


opened its Encore casino in Macau last month and said that it is looking to start building another location in the area next year. It is also looking to relocate its headquarters, which are currently in Las Vegas, to Macau within the next four years.

Wynn saw its revenue in Macau jump 32% in the first quarter, which helped it return to the black.

Overall, Macau posted a record 70% surge in gaming revenue in April to $1.76 billion. And it appears the gambling hub could be on track for another record month.

"Our understanding from several contacts in Macau is that the Chinese Labor Day holiday led to an extremely strong first week in May," Sterne Agee analyst David Bain wrote in a note. "Our checks to differing hotels in the area prior to Labor Day weekend showed that most gaming hotels were sold out ... and rates remained at higher-than-average levels for several days."

And casino operators aren't just limiting their Asian expansion to Macau. Last month, Sands opened the first part of its $5.5 billion hotel-casino in Singapore. The company expects the Singapore casino could earn $1 billion annually.

MGM has also said that it is looking into other gaming markets, including Vietnam.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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