How Japanese casino players will cope with Las Vegas Sands' withdrawal -- May 28
The announcement by Las Vegas Sands Corp. to withdraw from building an integrated casino resort at the start of May came as a major setback in the country's efforts to popularise casinos.

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson's decision comes at a time when there are doubts as to whether any casino resorts can open within the next couple of years given the economic damage over the past month or so on top of concerns about problem gambling in the country already.

Adelson met with prime minister Shinzo Abe off the back of a reference from his friend and US President, Donald Trump, back in February 2017.

Yokohama had been one of the cities in contention for a Las Vegas Sands casino but that will not happen now. The city itself may not see a major casino resort built at all in the near future either. It will be one of the key election issues in the build up to August 2021's vote.

Any alternative would be required to work quickly and efficiently under a tight deadline from the government. What's more, Osaka seems the more likely location amid both corporate and political enthusiasm.

MGM Resorts International are leading the way in Osaka. The city originally wanted the casino to open ahead of the 2025 World Expo. However, MGM wanted a three-month extension on submitting their proposal back in March, which led Osaka officials to believe that the new resort would open in 2026 instead.

The good news for Osaka is that MGM say they remain committed to the city. Whether or not they are putting on a brave face remains to be seen. They are currently taking heavy losses from the pandemic, which has affected the United States far greater than any other country.

What does this mean for casino players in Japan?

The locals' dreams of a Las Vegas-style casino resort are going to have to wait a number of years, if ever, for one to open. Casino gambling is still prohibited in Japan too, though there are exceptions for sports betting, pachinko and pachi-slot machines.

Casino fans in Japan continue to wait for a legalisation similar to the likes of Australia and many European countries. Many continue to anticipate the opening of online casinos in Japan.

The improvement in technology, graphics and internet connections have made the popularity of online casinos skyrocket year after year this millennium. The current circumstances have also raised their popularity further.

Compared to the traditional land-based casinos, online casinos have many advantages to players.

Arguably the most popular benefit of playing at an online casino is the location. Players can play wherever they like provided they have an internet connection on their smartphone. Given that casinos are few and far between, many miles apart, this saves a lot of time and travel expenses.

On a similar note, there is no dress code when you're playing in the comfort of your own home, instead of needing to adhere to the land-based casinos' dress codes.

The majority of online casinos also offer their players sign-up bonuses and free spins, something you rarely find when you head to the brick-and-mortar benefit.

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