With legislation that is set to legalize casino gambling in Japan continuing to take shape, some of the largest Las Vegas-based operators are reportedly said to be considering Brazil as the next big international market.

According to a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corporation see Brazil as a potentially lucrative target and are closely monitoring two pieces of competing legislation that could see the South American nation fully legalize casino gambling.

“Our company, like all of the companies actively looking at Brazil right now, is going through an exercise in process,” Jan Jones Blackhurst, Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility Executive Vice-President for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, reportedly told the newspaper. “But you’re looking at what could be significant markets.”

Blackhurst reportedly told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she had made trips to Brazil in order to access the market and believes that the cities of Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Salvador Da Bahia and Rio De Janeiro could support large casinos because they are already tourist destinations or are home to some of the nation’s wealthiest citizens.

“Personally, I like Brasilia because it’s the capital and many affluent people live there,” Blackhurst reportedly told the newspaper. “It’s very safe.”

The prospect of opening a casino in Brazil, which is home to some 200 million people, moreover reportedly prompted Sheldon Adelson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Las Vegas Sands Corporation, to pay a visit in May in order to meet with President Michel Temer and other high-ranking government officials. Following this trip, the mayor for Rio De Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella, purportedly told the nation’s O Globo newspaper that he and the 83-year-old casino magnate had discussed potential investments in the city that could be worth around $8 billion.

“We see what everybody else sees,” Rob Goldstein, President and Chief Operating Officer for Las Vegas Sands Corporation reportedly told the newspaper. “It’s a large population base and a fascinating country. “Rio [De Janeiro] and especially Sao Paulo with its large population are compelling. If you look at comparable numbers for gaming in that region, it’s clearly a market you need to pay attention to. [Adelson] decided to have a look for himself and he was impressed with what he saw.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that MGM Resorts International is also among those “interested” in the prospect of opening a Brazilian casino and is “monitoring” the situation closely while the firm’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Murren, recently paid a visit to see the situation on the ground for himself.

However, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a Brazil casino for any of these American giants is still many years in the future as they await the passage of enabling legislation and its associated tax rates.

“The final outcome will depend on what that legislation looks like,” Blackhurst reportedly told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Is it at a tax level that allows you to invest the capital they expect? Are the regulations going to be of a standard that will allow United States companies with highly privileged and regulated licenses to be able to comfortably participate?”

Goldstein reportedly concurred and declared that the process is “in the early innings” and that the industry was “still far away from seeing legislation and the approval process”.

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