Leaving Las Vegas, Sands Shifting East

The company behind the Sands Casino brand–an icon that’s almost synonymous with the Desert Queen itself–is cashing out its chips and moving all its action to the lush eastern baize of Macao and Singapore.

Las Vegas Sands, founded in 1989, after buying out the legendary 1952 eponymous casino, and pioneers of the integrated resort and gaming business model, has agreed to sell its landmark Venetian Resort Las Vegas and the Sands Expo and Convention Center to VICI properties and Apollo Global Management for a combined US$6.25 billion (£4.54bn/€5.30bn).

While the company, like so many other retail-heavy operations, was lashed by Covid-19 disruptions and lockdowns in 2020, it has made a strong rebound in the first financial half of this year, significantly reducing net losses and seeing a 60.2 per cent, year-on-year, rise in revenue to US$2.37 billion across its US and Far Eastern portfolio (£1.72bn/€2.01bn).

So it leaves both VICI and Apollo, the corporate raider who tried to hijack the recent Caesars Entertainment-William Hill merger, with much more than a busted flush on the Vegas strip when they aim to complete before the end of this year.

“[We are] starting a new chapter in this company’s history,” said Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Robert Goldstein.

“Our company is focused on growth, and we see meaningful opportunities on a variety of fronts. Asia remains the backbone of this company, and our developments in Macao and Singapore are [now] the center of our attention.”

And the new-look Sands is also poised to make a strong move into digital gaming by investing in online gambling suppliers and creating a new B2B iGaming investment team.

Last year, like land casinos everywhere, Sands casinos in Vegas, Macao and Singapore were closed for lengthy stretches.

But this year all of its casinos remained open, although subject to Covid health and safety protocols.

Looking closer at H1 results, US$1.71 billion of Sands revenue (£1.25bn/€1.45bn) came from casino gambling, up almost 60 per cent, like-for-like.

Mall revenue more than doubled to US$304 million (£221m/€258.92m) and accommodation revenue increased by some 44 per cent to US$211 million (£153.42m/€179m).

“We remain enthusiastic about the opportunity to welcome more guests back to our properties as greater volumes of visitors are eventually able to travel to Macao and Singapore,” said Goldstein.

“We remain confident in the eventual recovery in travel and tourism spending across our markets.

“Demand for our offerings from customers who have been able to visit remains robust, but pandemic-related travel restrictions in both Macao and Singapore continue to limit visitation and hinder our current financial performance.”

In all, Sands registered a total net loss of US$470m for H1 (£341.75m/€398.76m), compared to a loss of US$821 million in the first quarter of last year (£597m/€696.55m).

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