George Tanasijevich, managing director of global development at Las Vegas Sands, recently presented a survey in central Tokyo, which for the first time, indicated that a majority of the Japanese public supports the establishment of IRs in their nation—at least when the question is asked in a particularly leading manner.
The survey, conducted by the Nippon Research Center, found result of 55.8 percent of the public are in favor of “the development of an Integrated Resort similar to Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands in Japan,” and only 44.2 percent opposed. Tanasijevich is also CEO of the Singapore property.
The survey result is considerably less surprising when its peculiar methodology is factored in. Before answering the key question on support for an IR in Japan, the respondents were made to read three information cards highlighting Marina Bay Sands’ economic contributions to Singapore and its measures to combat problem gambling. Then a video was shown highlighting Sands’ rich entertainment offerings. Only then were the respondents asked if they would like to see something like that in Japan as well.
While the Nippon Research Center survey cannot be regarded as a fair assessment of where the Japanese public actually stands on the “casino issue” (as the Japanese newspapers frame the matter), it does suggest—as Sands points out—that Japanese public opinion is apt to become more favorable toward IRs when “educated” about them in a certain way.
Tanasijevich commented, “In Marina Bay Sands it is less than 2 percent of our space that is the casino, but the vast majority of it is not gaming space that is frequented by people from all across Asia. I think as the public gains a greater and greater understanding what an Integrated Resort is and how you manage risk which is sometimes associated with the casino piece of it, I believe that the support level will increase even further.”
Also part of the discussion was Noriko Tanaka, President of the Society Concerned about Gambling Addiction. She stated that her main concern was not to oppose or to support the development of IRs in Japan, but rather to utilize the current opportunity to strengthen the nation’s gambling anti-addiction policies as a whole, including measures to cope with the existing social ills associated with pachinko and other legalized forms of betting.