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Economy

Japan's entry to shake up Asia's casino market

Operators poised to invest as policymakers try to balance profit, social concerns

Integrated resort Marina Bay Sands includes the largest casino in Singapore. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO/SINGAPORE Top executives from U.S. and Asian casino operators were in an optimistic mood as they gathered in Tokyo in late February. Speaking at a gathering of investors, each expressed an eagerness to go into business in the world's third-largest economy, to be opened for casino gambling under a law passed in December.

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands, called Japan a "country of chance taking," citing its abundance of pachinko parlors, which feature pinball-like gaming machines. His company has invested in Macau and Singapore, and he put potential investment in a Japanese project at $10 billion. "Singapore was a warm-up to this," he said.

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