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Wakayama Casino Developer Taps Former [...]

Wakayama Casino Developer Taps Former Sands Executive William Weidner

The company behind the Wakayama integrated casino resort proposal has brought on a longtime gaming industry executive with global development experience.

Wakayama casino William Weidner Japan
William Weidner is pictured in 2008 while still president of Las Vegas Sands. The longtime gaming industry veteran is joining an effort to build a large casino complex in Wakayama, Japan. (Image: Las Vegas Sun)

William Weidner served as president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands for 15 years before his departure in March of 2009. He has partnered with Canada-based private equity firm Clairvest Group in its effort to win one of Japan’s three commercial casino licenses. Through its subsidiary, Clairvest Neem Ventures, Clairvest has proposed building a large-scale integrated resort with an “initial investment” totaling JPY470 billion (US$4.3 billion).

In a statement, Clairvest Vice Chairman Jeff Parr said the company “shared a common vision” with Weidner and his firm Global Gaming Asset Management (GGAM). Along with Weidner, Clairvest Neem Ventures announced the partnering of Group Partouche, a French casino operator that has more than 40 locations across the country. 

Wakayama Development

Weidner exited Sands not on good terms with the casino empire’s late founder Sheldon Adelson. Weidner and his billionaire boss had differences of opinions during the Great Recession regarding how to make sure the company was primed for recovery in the economic slump’s aftermath.

Weidner and Adelson’s relationship deteriorated to the point that the Sands board felt it was beyond repair. Weidner resigned, only for Adelson to later tell him he had been fired, and there would be no compensation package. 

The former Sands executive then founded GGAM, a company that helps firms develop integrated casino resorts. GGAM clients include Solaire Resort and Casino in the Philippines, and Baha Mar Resort Casino in the Bahamas.

GGAM’s brass includes several power players in the global gaming industry. Along with Weidner, the company is led by Bradley Stone, former president of international operations and construction at Sands, and Garry Saunders, former chief operating officer of Melco Resorts and vice president of Sands. GGAM also has Mario Ho on its payroll. Ho is the youngest son of the late billionaire Stanley Ho, the so-called “King of Gambling” who, for decades, held a monopoly on casino gambling in the Chinese enclave of Macau.

More Attractive Bid

Wakayama selected the $4.3 billion casino pitch from Clairvest after Suncity Group, the only other company to submit the city a resort proposal, exited the race. Clairvest and Wakayama must still beat out at least one other Japanese city’s casino pitch to the national government. 

Currently, four cities are forming bids. Along with Wakayama, they are Osaka, Yokohama, and Nagasaki. 

We share with our two partners a common vision of the national IR program in Japan and are convinced that this partnership will help strengthen the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to an increase in international customers, as well as a significant influx in Wakayama Prefecture and the Kansai region,” Jeff Parr of Clairvest Neem Ventures, said of the two consortium partnerships.

Clairvest’s integrated resort plan features 2,700 hotel rooms, conference space, an eSports arena, an amusement park, and casino. 

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