Several days the news struck the casino industry as claims surfaced that Trump was personally involved in the Japanese casino license selection process. Reportedly, he told the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to consider Las Vegas Sands for the IR, thus indicating that he wanted that as a personal favor. When you take a look at the relationship between Donald Trump and Sheldon Adelson, there appears to be some merit in the claim. The casino mogul and the US president have a long history and a firm friendship. A good deal of Trump’s campaign was financed by the Sands.
Allegedly, Shinzo Abe thanked Trump for the suggestion but did not respond to his request with either a positive or negative reply. Many other casino operators around the world were shocked by the news as the selection process for building three enormous Integrated Resorts in Japan is supposed to be fair and immune to outside influences. Although a close link between Adelson, Trump, and Abe could have been established during the official visit to the White House a couple of months ago, the rumors remained unverified. However, it was only a matter of time before one of the involved parties would make a statement to confirm or deny these rumors. A Japanese government official has spoken out and claimed that the alleged conversation between the American and Japanese leaders never took place.
Yoshihide Suga is a Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Japanese government who spoke with the media. He pointed out that PM Shinzo Abe already stated in July that the rumors were not true. Suga noted that Abe had kept his comments on-topic and was honest when asked about the IR selection process. The original story was published in Nikkei Asian Review in June, one month before Abe stated that the rumors were not true. However, ProPublica revived the story last week which sparked interest among many international news outlets. Las Vegas Sands issued a statement to ProPublica stating that they have a good chance to win one of the licenses for the IRs, but that there were no presidents and prime ministers involved – it’s just their sheer quality as a casino operator. After working overtime to agree on the IRs, there is still a long way to go before the Japanese people get to see the opening of one of these resorts. The Japanese government needs to speed up the process and not let outside operators or officials affect its decision. In spite of Japan’s commitment to an impartial process, though, many of the operators have already opened offices in the County of the Rising Sun to lobby for themselves in the selection process.