Las Vegas Sands Corp., the world’s largest casino company, is dropping its pursuit of a license in Japan, ending a multidecade quest for what was one of the biggest prizes in the global gambling business.

The company founded by billionaire Sheldon Adelson has been trying to expand in Japan since at least 2005, but management objected to some terms of the country’s casino legislation, according to people familiar with the matter.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks was that the concession would be good for only 10 years. Even in that time frame, national or local government officials could change the terms in a way that might crimp profit. The company’s resorts in Macau and Singapore have licenses that extended for 20 and 30 years, respectively.

“We are grateful for all of the friendships we have formed and the strong relationships we have in Japan, but it is time for our company to focus our energy on other opportunities,” Adelson said in a statement.

The departure of Sands is a setback for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been trying to boost Japan’s economy through a focus on tourism. The coronavirus and the resulting collapse in travel have hurt that as well. The company’s decision is also likely to be a disappointment for potential casino suppliers and partners.

“It’s probably not a coincidence that Sands comes to this conclusion amid a pandemic,” said Jay Defibaugh, an analyst at CLSA, pointing to the shutdown of some of the company’s resorts as part of efforts to curb the virus’s spread.

“The decision, while surprising, is taken positively given the conservative perspective of the market on capital projects in the current uncertain environment,” Jefferies analyst David Katz said in a note. “Our impression is that the cost/return dynamic is not as compelling as originally anticipated.”

Las Vegas Sands shares were down 0.5% to $45.75 in premarket trading Wednesday, having fallen 33% this year through Tuesday.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment on the Sands decision at a press conference on Wednesday, and said that the country will continue on schedule to build out casino resorts without changes.

The Asian nation was considered a huge opportunity for the industry given its mature and wealthy population of 126 million. Locals are big fans of pachinko, a slot-machine-like game that’s become a $192 billion business, but no Vegas-style casinos exist. Enabling legislation was passed in 2016. With as many as three resorts opening, analysts predicted the market could top $20 billion annually, making it the second-largest in Asia after Macau.

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