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US casino billionaires place bets in Japan's tale of two cities

Published on May 11, 2014 12:36 PM

OSAKA/TOKYO (REUTERS) - Two US billionaires are betting on rival cities, Tokyo and Osaka, to be the first in Japan to open casino resorts - once the government gives the go-ahead to legalise gambling.

Japan is one of the world's last untapped gaming markets and could become the third-largest gambling destination after Macau and the United States, with annual revenue of over US$40 billion (S$50 billion), according to broker CLSA.

Lawmakers who support legalising casino gambling hope to see initial draft legislation this year, with the first resort opening by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games.

In a race for first-mover advantage, 76-year-old Chicago real estate mogul Neil Bluhm has set his sights on the southern commercial hub of Osaka, while Las Vegas gaming tycoon Sheldon Adelson, four years his senior, is putting his weight behind a Tokyo flagship resort.

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