Posts Tagged ‘ICE365.com’

Global casino leaders can still rediscover Japan

October 27, 2021

Japan Fuji

Japanese authorities have made creating integrated resorts a mountainous task. Photo credit: JNTO

Hopes of creating the next big thing in Asian gaming skyrocketed as Japan began moving toward casino legalization in 2013. That enthusiasm has dissipated over these past eight years for a variety of reasons, and the smart money now bets building integrated resorts in Japan for billions of dollars won’t pay off.

I’ve been part of the negative wave that’s swept the Japan casino contest, due to culminate in the national government licensing up to three IRs next year. I’ve suggested that Japan stop the IR process to rewrite the rules and that authorities only award one IR license among the three current contenders, hoping for more attractive candidates to emerge later.

Then in late September, Caesars Entertainment, the largest US casino operator, rejoined the Japan IR race as the proposed casino operator for Wakayama prefecture’s IR bid. That’s the best news for Japan’s IR supporters in years. Caesars created the themed IR concept with Caesars Palace 55 years ago, and Harrah’s, which bought Caesars in 2004 before Eldorado Resorts bought the combined company last year, invented the modern casino customer rewards program.

Caesars’ return to Japan – it dropped out the bidding at the time of the Eldorado purchase – is a reminder that Japan remains the world’s third largest economy, and it boasted rapidly growing international visitor arrivals pre-Covid. It’s also a reminder that defying conventional wisdom about Macau remade the global casino business two decades ago. Japan could have similar impact, despite what the smart money says.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a columnist for ICE 365, a contributor to Forbes, a columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Macau casinos remain best bet in Asia

October 10, 2021

When Covid restrictions ease, Asian gaming destinations will feel the impact of Chinese government policies to curtail overseas gambling, with Macau likely to suffer least.

Despite investor fears triggered by new gaming law proposals, Macau’s casino sector remains the best bet in Asian gaming. China’s policies to stop overseas gambling by its citizens are real, and their impact will unfold as Covid travel restrictions recede. Destinations will feel the effects differently based on a variety of factors, including bilateral relations with Beijing.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a columnist for ICE 365, a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Ex-Sands exec Weidner attacked in Japan role

September 2, 2021

Wakayama Palace stands tall in the prefecture bidding for a Japan casino license. (Photo courtesy Wakayama Prefecture Govt)

Former Las Vegas Sands president and COO William Weidner may be the most accomplished gaming executive still in the business. Weidner’s 14 years with LVS included building its Vegas Strip Venetian complex, gaining entry to Macau, developing Cotai as world’s most lucrative casino cluster, winning a license in Singapore and conceiving what’s become the world’s most admired integrated resort there. So Weidner provided instant credibility when he joined Canadian private equity investor Clairvest’s effort to win an integrated resort license in Wakayama Prefecture near Osaka.

Perhaps, then, it shouldn’t be surprising that Weidner came under attack via anonymous documents recounting legal settlements of US government charges against Las Vegas Sands during his tenure. The documents may aim to weaken Wakayama’s IR bid, but it’s equally likely they stem from a long running dispute involving Weidner’s Global Gaming Asset Management firm and Philippine billionaire Enrique Razon’s Bloomberry Resorts, or a Taiwan’s American Asian Entertainment’s US$12 billion lawsuit against LVS over termination of their Macau partnership, in which Weidner was a leading actor but is not a party to the litigation.

In any case, the attack is another ugly aspect of Japan’s casino legalization saga that has limited public support and gotten the cold shoulder from leading international casino companies and Japan’s largest cities and tourist destinations.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a columnist for ICE 365, a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Measuring Macau’s loudest jingling

July 27, 2021

Lawrence Ho’s Melco Group operates City of Dreams Macau and gets high marks for recent non-gaming initiatives.

Macau casinos’ second quarter results, still below 40% of pre-pandemic levels, just show whose pockets are jingling loudest. What really matters in Macau won’t be found in earnings reports, due to factors that will to outlast Covid-19.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a columnist for ICE 365, a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.


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