A Bullish Sign for Casino Investors: Japan Gaming Conference in May

This May, the Japan Gaming Conference is showing why investors should be more bullish than ever on gaming in Japan.

Seth McNew
Bradley Seth McNew
Apr 19, 2014 at 11:00AM
Consumer Goods

Photo: Japan Gaming Conference

This May, industry leaders in Japan are hosting the first ever international conference to promote knowledge and leadership around the coming gaming legislation in Japan. While individual investors may not be able to attend the conference to learn first hand of the Japanese gaming rules and legislative initiatives coming as the conference will cost about $1800 to attend, they can certainly win from the overall sentiment that gaming in Japan is moving forward quickly.

Sands CEO Adelson said that his company will do whatever it takes to get into the Japanese market. Photo:Bloomberg

Everyone wants in
Last year, casino companies such as Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), and Melco Crown (NASDAQ:MLCO) all made headlines when they each made bold claims about how much they would immediately invest in Japan if the government agreed to change its laws and open the country up to legalized casinos. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Anderson led the bullish claims by saying he would invest $10 billion if need be.

Japan's successful bid for the 2020 summer games wil not be cheap, the government will be spurred on by the idea of more gaming revenue coming in by that time. Photo: CNN

At the time, investors were unsure about whether or not the claims were investment worthy. After all, there was still the looming hurdle of the Japanese government actually passing the legislation to allow gaming. While the government has certainly seemed supportive over the last year with statements of hoping that gaming revenue could fund part of the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, it was always still uncertain how likely it is that the legislation would pass.

The Japan Gaming Conference, talking like it's a sure bet
As the conference introduction page claims, members of the Japanese Government, industry leaders local tourism industry, and both local and international casino company executives are all set to present the latest developments regarding what analysts agree to be a potential $10 billion market.

The conference also claims to be the start of government and industry working together over the coming 18 months to shape this new legislation and industry in Japan. The conference will provide an opportunity for international and local businesses to be involved in the full supply chain, coming together to help decide how Integrated Resorts (IRs) will operate and grow in Japan.

Photo: Japan Gaming Conference

Topics at the conference include items such as "insight into the evolution of IRs and the Asian gaming consumer" and "comparing Japanese framework with neighboring emerging jurisdictions." Industry leaders, including directors from each of the leading U.S. casino companies including the COO of Las Vegas Sands, important executives at Wynn, MGM, and multiple directors from Melco Crown, will all be noted speakers at the event. They are already proving their place as top choices in the Japanese gaming community.

Foolish conclusion: The opportunity will be huge
When the Japanese DIET (the Japanese congress) votes in the coming months on whether or not to start allowing casinos to operate in Japan, it will be the start of what could be the next largest market for casino companies after Macau and actually be a bigger draw than Singapore or Las Vegas. According to industry estimations, one single integrated resort could have the potential to earn revenues of $10 billion in its first year.

Whether it's a U.S. company such as Las Vegas Sands that already gets 86% of its revenue from Asia, Melco Crown that hopes to bring its Asian origins and industry leading entertainment to Japan, or MGM or Wynn that are each ramping up their own Macau operations and will be happy to further diversify in Asia, investors can be certain that Japan is going to be a casino industry game changer in the coming months. Statements and actions from the government continue to ease investors minds that casinos will be welcomed into the country. Foolish investors will do well to keep their eyes on this space and to pay attention to the vote coming from the Japanese government in the next month or two.