Sun/ - MGM MIRAGE, the second-largest U.S. casino operator,
is seeking a Thai partner to set up casinos in the Southeast
Asian nation, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's office said
in a statement.
met MGM MIRAGE Chief Executive Terrence Lanni Tuesday. MGM MIRAGE's
interest may stem from Thaksin's statement in August supporting
a move to legalize casinos to boost revenue and cut the government's
budget deficit and debt.
has run a budget deficit for the past five years, with the gap
between spending and revenue expected to be about 140 billion
baht (U.S. $3.2 billion) for the financial year that ended Sept.
Vegas-based MGM MIRAGE, a venture would allow the company to
tap business from Thais and overseas tourists in Thailand, which
had 10 million overseas visitors last year. The company in February
missed out on obtaining one of three casino licenses offered
by Macau after the former Portuguese colony ended a four-decade
gambling monopoly of tycoon Stanley Ho.
government said it must rally public support before allowing
casinos to operate legally. Religious groups have protested
when previous administrations raised the idea. The only legal
forms of gambling in Thailand are horse-race betting and a state-run
in neighboring Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar draw Thai tourists
who can't gamble legally at home. Legalizing casino gambling
may also help the government reduce corruption, a Thaksin campaign
the publication Corporate Mexico reported a new federal gaming
law may be approved in December to allow legitimate casinos
to tap a big gambling market now served by hundreds or even
1,000 clandestine casinos now operating in Mexico.
casinos will also be aimed at contributing to economic and social
development in the regions and are expected to help tourism
expand, bring in more foreign currency and create jobs,"
the publication said.
And in Japan,
some 500 local officials, Diet members and television personalities
joined Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara at a one-day mock casino
last week to promote the metropolitan government's plan for
introducing gambling establishments, the Nikkei business news
city-hall casino, Tokyo had Konami Co. fly in 39 slot machines
from Las Vegas and Australia. The giant Japanese video game
company is Japan's leader in the casino business and has been
licensed to produce and sell slot machines in Nevada since 2000.
that started in Tokyo is now making its way out into the Japanese
heartland, Nikkei reported. The city of Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture
set up a joint government/private-sector council in July to
try and attract casinos.
Prefectural Government has established a similar body. Nearly
10 local governments, including those in Miyazaki Prefecture,
which is looking for ways to use facilities at the failed Seagaia
resort, and Okinawa Prefecture, have voiced interest in casinos.
A group of Diet members promoting casinos has also formed within
the Liberal Democratic Party.
many challenges, including changes needed to existing legislation,
expectations are growing that government-led efforts will make
the introduction of casinos in Japan a reality, Nikkei said.