Las Vegas Sands Divest Retail Portfolio, Focuses on Macau Instead
Las Vegas Sands has divested $6.25 billion from its retail portfolio, selling its flagship Las Vegas Strip resort and convention complex and refocusing the company’s efforts on Macau and Singapore.
Sheldon Adelson’s passing has called for a change of policies, which now focuses on the company’s more lucrative business operations in Asia. With Macau and Singapore contributing 87% to the $13.74 billion revenue in 2019 and the pandemic pressuring companies, Las Vegas Sands chose to move forward on a fresh note.
Admittedly, LVS didn’t do so out of greed. When the COVID-19 shutdowns began, the company was one of the few, and if not the only one, to continue paying salaries and social benefits to employees, supporting many in difficult times.
Even in 2020, Macau and Singapore continued to generate the bulk of operations, bringing 79.5% of the $3.6 billion bottom lines the company generated. Despite the dramatic drop in operational results, the regions that will now be the company’s focus remain its main drivers of revenue.
While Land Vegas Sands is divesting, the fact that companies are purchasing the property is a signal not of waning casino industry but confidence in the city’s potential, state, and industry as a whole.
Nevertheless, LVS remains focused on Asia, where the company wants to see more investment moving forward. Las Vegas Sands is not the only company to divest. MGM Resorts International sold three flagship properties, including Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and MGM Grand, as part of two REIT deals and a leaseback agreement.
Las Vegas Sands is following in the example set by Adelson during the last earnings call he participated in, arguing that Macau will recover itself.
Connecticut Could Soon Welcome Legalized Online Gambling
Things are moving quickly in Connecticut, where Gov. Ned Lamont said earlier this week that the state could soon see a legalized online gambling and sports betting. The agreement on a potential gambling expansion was reached with key stakeholders and, not least, the two Native American tribes, which are at the heart of any successful regulation effort.
The news was confirmed by Mohegan Tribal Chair James Gessner Jr., who said that Gov. Lamont was correct and that tribes were close to negotiating gambling expansion in the state.
Should everything go as planned, Connecticut should collect 20% on online gambling and 13.75% on sports betting, leading to “tens of millions of dollars in new revenue” for the state, Gov. Lamont argued. The governor confirmed that it had taken months of hard work to make this deal come through. Given Native American tribes’ traditional opposition to gambling expansion, this is understandable.
However, shortly after the governor’s statement, it transpired that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe had not been included in the deal prompting a stern response from fellow lawmakers as well as tribe leaders.
Not Everyone Keen to Introduce Sports Betting in Massachusetts Casinos
Massachusetts is falling behind other states that have pushed through sports betting legalization and beginning to generate additional revenue for their budgets through an expanded gambling industry.
The Bay State is also looking good when it considers its own chances of legalizing the activity with Gov. Charlie Baker and Sen. Eric Lesser already pushing through regulatory proposals that would see the sports betting industry legalized in the state.
Yet, not everyone is convinced that things should move at a quick pace. Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health Executive Director Marlene Warner has cautioned that instead of rushing up, the Bay State should regulate the sports betting industry “right.”
Warner understands that sports betting is coming one way or another but only asks lawmakers to consider all the implications of their decision and specifically concerning problem gambling and other potential societal issues.
She’s not alone, and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, who has a track record of opposing gambling expansion, acquiesced to sports betting as a trend that would be difficult to avoid but argued that having it tied into casinos might be a dangerous precedent. He specifically said:
“I just think it’s important to raise those questions concerning sports betting because especially if it’s going to allow sports betting in casinos, at racetracks or simulcast or slots, is that only adding to people spending all of their money at a big corporate casino and not spending their money locally in their community.”
Sen. Eldridge was unsure of whether casinos should be allowed to lure in sports bettors to their gaming floors, where they could end up spending a mint. Betting on sports, though, the senator argued, is not designed as an activity that invites you to overspend, even when it’s conducted online. Casino gaming, though, is.
Georgia Pushes for an All-Rounded Gambling Regulation
Georgia is hoping to push through a unified gambling proposal that effectively brings pari-mutuel horse race betting, casino, and sports betting under the same roof. To do so, Georgia approved a constitutional amendment on Wednesday and will now ask voters to weigh in whether they want to see regulated in-state facilities offering these types of gambling activities.
Rep. Alan Powell was convinced that this is the right way to move forward. Efforts to legalize casino gambling and horse racing have been falling short of reaching consensus in the legislature. In light of this, lawmakers agreed to let the public decide on an issue that has been eating up a lot of time and resources.
Legalizing gambling en masse would help fund the HOPE scholarships program, which is designed to help students in Georgia. With the state facing funding shortages due to COVID-19, turning to a legalized gambling industry could do some good.
Rep. Powell was convinced that the funding coming from gambling could be used for good, adding that the state could expand Medicaid, invest in rural hospitals, mental health, and more. Even with this prospect, any final constitutional amendment would require a supermajority of two-thirds of all legislators in the House and Senate – not an easy feat even if Georgian residents decide to vote in favor.