Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed a senior Japanese official last year to allow for gaming tycoon Sheldon Adelson to open a casino in the country where gambling is largely banned.
Las Vegas Sands CEO Adelson in February last year announced its intention to invest $10 billion in Japan to kick-start the country’s casino industry, currently non-existent.
According to local paper Haaretz, on a tour of Japan to boost economic ties in May, Netanyahu asked an unnamed official to facilitate the launch of the casino. The official was shocked by the request and immediately refused it, later divulging the conversation to his colleagues. The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement denying Haaretz’s report.
In late 2013, Sheldon abandoned plans to launch a $30 billion mega-resort in Spain saying his company intended to focus on encouraging conservative Asian countries to open up their gambling industries.
“Right now our focus is on encouraging Asian countries, like Japan and Korea, to dramatically enhance their tourism offering through the development of integrated resorts there,” he said in a statement.
Adelson is the publisher of Israeli free daily newspaper Israel Hayom, largely seen as aligned with the government.