SINGAPORE - Gaming operator Genting Singapore, owner of Singapore's Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), makes no secret of its ambitions to expand into Japan once casino activities are legalised there.
Its president, Mr Tan Hee Teck, flagged the intention at its annual general meeting on Thursday. He told a packed audience that "if you follow the news, it looks likely that Japan is going to liberalise casinos within six to nine months".
He said: "This is a big opportunity for us. If you look at companies which can afford to build an IR (integrated resort) of this magnitude, there are only two or three companies in the world which can do it."
Building RWS - the company's flagship casino - had cost $5 billion, but constructing a similar project in Japan is likely to cost $10 billion or more. It is a huge task which only a few casino operators such as Genting have the financial resources to undertake.
But any opening up of Japan's gaming market is likely to throw up money-spinning opportunities for casino operators as the Japanese are already avid gamblers, with a pinball-like game called pachinko generating US$200 billion (S$248 billion) in revenue a year.
Genting shares gained 5.5 cents on Thursday. On Friday, the counter rose another four cents to $1.52. This gave Genting a gain of 12.5cents, or 8.96 per cent, for the week.
Mr Tan disclosed that in anticipation of big projects, the company sits on a war chest of $5 billion, which includes the $2.3 billion it raised last year from selling a bond-like instrument known as preference shares.
"We are the only company with 28 analysts' coverage. Most institutional investors look to Genting as a growth stock. We aspire to grow this company, whether it is through acquisition or greenfield projects to enhance the value of our shares," he said.