Genting Singapore May Expand in Japan on Legislation Outlook

Genting Singapore Plc, Southeast Asia’s biggest casino operator, said it may expand in Japan as it expects the country to pass its gaming law in the next 12 to 18 months.

The company, which owns one of Singapore’s two casino resorts, is monitoring Japan’s legislative process and said the market offers “good potential.” It said it explores every acquisition opportunity and Japan will probably be the company’s next investment.

“I’m more optimistic on something happening in Japan,” Chairman Lim Kok Thay said at a press conference in Singapore. “It’s all about the legislation. The group wouldn’t do anything until there’s clarity on gaming regulation.”

Gaming operators from billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. to Caesars Entertainment Corp. have said they are interested in building casino resorts in Japan, and the country’s casinos could emerge as a 3.4 trillion yen ($41 billion) industry, according to a 2009 study by Ryosaku Sawa, an economics professor at Osaka University of Commerce.

The expansion would also help diversify Genting’s earnings as its main casino operation at Resorts World in Singapore posted a 20 percent drop in gaming revenue in the third quarter. Las Vegas Sands, which operates the city state’s other casino resort, said its gaming revenue in Singapore slumped 28 percent.

Shares of Genting have fallen 17 percent in Singapore trading this year, compared with the 17 percent gain in the benchmark Straits Times Index. The stock rose 0.8 percent to S$1.25 as of 2:12 p.m. today.

Genting, which is holding its so-called grand opening for its casino resort in the southern island of Sentosa, said the property is running at close to full capacity. Lim said he’s confident Resorts World, which includes a Universal Studios theme park, will attract 17 million visitors next year. That compares with a projected 16 million visitors this year.

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