Las Vegas Sands has made it clear that its foreseeable business future is in Asia where it has extraordinary casino properties in Macau and Singapore, places that are still trying to recover from the economic pummeling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reality of LV Sands’ attention shifting to Asia was driven home last year when it agreed to sell its signature properties on the Las Vegas Strip, the upscale Venetian and Palazzo casino resorts, for about $6 billion to a private equity fund and a real estate investment trust in a deal that will close this year.
But Las Vegas Sands does still has an interest in the U.S. gaming market where that market is especially juicy, say like the New York City metropolitan area.
In fact, LV Sands has always had an eye on the Big Apple. So, when New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that she supported as many as three downstate casino licenses, the news was greeted warmly by LVS.
”We’re in the Hunt’ in NYC
During an earnings call Wednesday for the fourth quarter 2021, Las Vegas Sands CEO Rob Goldstein enthusiastically talked about the prospect of a New York City-area casino.
“We’ve been talking for years about New York. We’re big believers in that market,” Goldstein said. “The recent announcement by Gov. Hochul about three licenses is encouraging. We’re in the hunt. I wouldn’t want to overplay our hand and say what our opportunity might be, but it’s a massive market, underserved by the current product.”
The American Gaming Association lists more than 30 casinos in New York State but while a few are substantial many are quite small, and the ones located downstate have electronic games only. None would be considered on a scale with Vegas.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands is known for its elaborate destination casino resorts.
“By any metric that should be a massive market for us so we’re deep into it,” Goldstein said of the New York metropolitan area. “We were there last week, we have a team on the ground working through it, and we’re hoping to get a license. That’s all I’ll say about that.”
No Rush to Get Into NY Sports Betting
While Las Vegas Sands is interested in a traditional Vegas-style casino for New York, as is Hard Rock, other gaming companies have joined the rush to get into the mobile New York sports betting market. The state has given the greenlight to nine operators but Las Vegas Sands isn’t one of them.
The NY market launched on Jan. 8 with four sportsbooks and LVS is no hurry to get into a frantic battle for sports betting customers that’s likely to be expensive for operators.
“I believe there will be a day when sports betting and iGaming are very successful businesses and we’ll continue to look at the opportunities and wait patiently,” Goldstein said.
Sands Interested in Florida
In addition to its interest in a New York City-area casino, Las Vegas Sands is in the midst of a casino referendum push in Florida for a possible gambling hall in North Florida. But that’s problematic because a petition with more than 891,000 valid signatures is required by Jan. 31 just to get the North Florida casino question on the November ballot, and a recent count put the signature tally for the North Florida casino question at about 625,000.
The casino status quo in Florida has the Seminole Tribe of Florida as the dominant player.
Of the Florida petition effort, Goldstein said bluntly, “It’s a struggle down there.”
Las Vegas Sands has also shown interest in gambling in another big-state market, Texas, but there’s been little movement on any commercial gaming in that state.
As far as company earnings for the fourth quarter 2021 were concerned, net revenue was $1.01 billion, a decrease of 0.7% from the previous year quarter. Operating loss was $138 million, compared to operating loss of $119 million in the previous year quarter. Net loss in the fourth quarter of 2021 was $315 million, compared to net loss of $303 million in the fourth quarter of 2020. Full year 2021 operating loss was $689 million, compared to operating loss of $1.39 billion in 2020.