Las Vegas Sands CEO Rob Goldstein believes the quick return of customers to Southern Nevada will be similarly experienced in China’s Macau once the Asian region more fully opens its borders.
Goldstein is only the second chief executive in the history of the Sands casino empire. He succeeded the company’s founder and former chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson following the billionaire’s death in January.
Goldstein, long Adelson’s right-hand man and protégé, took the reins during a most difficult operating environment. But he wasted little time in greatly overhauling the corporation by agreeing in March to sell The Venetian and Palazzo, plus the Sands Expo and Convention Center, for $6.25 billion to Caesars Entertainment’s real estate investment trust VICI Properties.
Goldstein explained that there’s no seller’s remorse, as Sands plans to continue expanding its footprints in Macau and Singapore.
“Do I feel bad about leaving The Venetian and Palazzo? Yeah, because I was involved from day one with their development. But we have other things we’re doing with the company, and the sale puts us in a very strong position to invest more in Macau and Singapore,” Goldstein told CNBC.
Recovery Odds Strong
Las Vegas casinos are experiencing better than pre-pandemic gross gaming revenue (GGR). In October, Strip properties won $640.6 million from gamblers, which was 81 percent better than 2020, and 10 percent higher than October 2019.
Statewide, Nevada casinos have won at least $1 billion in each of the past seven months. It’s the second-longest streak of monthly reports higher than $1 billion in the history of the state gaming industry.
Las Vegas is recovering faster than many expected. But Goldstein says don’t group him into that bunch.
Las Vegas is the rebound story,” Goldstein said of the robust numbers. “Las Vegas is the blueprint. Less than a year ago, people told me Las Vegas won’t recover for four, five, six years, or maybe the end of the decade. I didn’t believe that.
“Vegas is the blueprint for Asia,” the chief executive continued. “Once the vaccinations are resolved and the government opens up the doors … Asia will follow Las Vegas’ lead.”
Macau’s doors remain closed to all visitors other than those arriving from parts of mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. As a result, Macau certainly isn’t yet experiencing the same bounce back as Las Vegas and Nevada, as well as elsewhere in the United States where regional casinos are also reporting record play.
GGR in the Chinese enclave through 10 months of 2021 is down more than $20 billion from 2019.
Las Vegas Sands is departing its company’s namesake city in terms of operating properties (the company plans to keep its corporate headquarters in town) to focus on Asia. But the US certainly isn’t off-limits for Sands.
The company remains interested in both Texas and New York. News emerged recently that Sands is in early discussions with New York Mets owner Steve Cohen regarding a possible integrated resort near the MLB team’s Citi Field ballpark in Queens.
Sands unsuccessfully spent almost $20 million this year lobbying Texas lawmakers to pass commercial gaming legislation. Andy Abboud, Sands’ vice president of government relations, says the company is “committed to Texas for the long haul.”
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