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Trump Lobbied for Sands’ Casino Bid in Japan

Ryan Knuppel

According to the newest report, US President Donald Trump has personally interfered in the bidding process for license distribution in Japan. He lobbied for the Las Vegas Sands by contacting the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. ProPublica published a lengthy overview of all the activities in politics where Sheldon Adelson, the founder and CEO of Sands, was included. Adelson is one of the richest people in the US and is currently known as the main financial basis for the Republican party. One could argue that his donations to the Republicans are what helped Trump become president back in 2016.

When Trump reached the White House, it was time for him to return the favor. Shinzo Abe visited Washington for the first time back in 2017, it was his first official visit since Trump became president. It just so happened that Sheldon Adelson was also nearby and had to meet Minister Abe personally in order to promote his kingdom and ask for a small favor that could actually bring him a fortune. That favor is choosing Sands over other competitors in the licensing process for the new Integrated Resorts that will be built in Japan. Only a week after Abe’s meeting with Adelson, Trump went to a golf game with the PM of Japan and reportedly told him to “strongly consider” the option to choose the bid from Sands.

ProPublica also stated that Abe and the other diplomats from Japan were a bit in disbelief about Trump raising the personal interests of his major donor during a state meeting. Reportedly, Abe did not respond with a positive or a negative answer, he merely thanked them for the information. Only two months after that, Adelson stated that the Japanese government might allow Sands to have more than one IR in their country. The initial plan was to give three licenses to three bidders, with each allowed to build one IR in three locations selected for this purpose.

After dinner with Trump, some Japanese media reported that Abe told his aides to write down Sands and one more casino operator from the US. Our guess is that it is either MGM Resorts or Wynn Resorts. Things get a little complicated regarding who the second casino might be. According to several sources, the CEO of MGM supported Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. Furthermore, he was not impressed regarding Trump and his temperament. Wynn’s CEO Steve Wynn also had some clashes with Trump back in the day, but he was a chairman of the Republican National Committee for a long time which may give him a slight advantage. The future remains uncertain. The Japanese government will still consider all of the bidders as well as the possible places to build Integrated Resorts. It is estimated that Japan has a huge potential for the casino industry and that it can make more revenue than Las Vegas or even Macau.

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