Chairman and CEO for Las Vegas Sands, Robert Goldstein, says that there are already signs of recovery in Macau this spring
By Buck Wargo – SiGMA US correspondent
Macau: Revenue and recovery
In its first earnings review since Las Vegas Sands Corp. agreed to sell its Strip properties, company executives reported an increased activity in Macau in March and April and spoke on their future plans to use proceeds from the US sale in Asia.
Las Vegas Sands reported a net revenue of $1.2 billion during the first quarter, down 15.6 per cent compared to the first three months of 2020.
Chairman and CEO Robert Goldstein said that there are already signs of recovery in Macau this spring compared to January and February with much higher visits and turnover. He said China is still economically resilient despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We can’t really define the timing of a full recovery at the moment, but it’s underway and I think it will continue in 2021,” Goldstein said.
“It will come back in a strong way, and we will be a leading player in that space.”
Goldstein said that on the other hand, Singapore remains a question mark, at least until a resumption in air travel to the country.
Reinvestment of sale proceeds
Goldstein discussed reinvesting proceeds from the sale of its Las Vegas properties into the Asian markets and looking for other opportunities in the region. He also spoke about potential opportunities in the US including through online gaming.
The Sands has launched a multi-million-dollar ad campaign to bring casinos to Texas.
“Our priority is getting back on our feet in Asia,” Goldstein said. “That’s the backbone of our company and where we will start first. If something opens up in the US, we will take a good look at that. If something opens up digitally, we will take a look at how to get a return. There will be some nice opportunities in the future there.”
Grant Chum, the senior vice president of global gaming strategy, said the Macau premium mass levels have “made a significant recovery” and are approaching the half-way mark of pre-pandemic levels. Non-gaming assets and products continue to attract people to play in their programs, he said.
VIP, however, is “still struggling around 20 per cent or under,” Chum added.
“The segments are following very different trajectories and we would expect that to continue for the time being,” Chum said.
“The encouraging thing is that since March we have really seen an acceleration of the base mass and leisure FIT (fully independent traveller) guests at the hotel and of course with retail at the high end of consumption. We have even had initial resumption of the MICE (meeting, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions) in March and bookings look encouraging. You can see a broad-based recovery in the different segments since early March,” he said when referring to Macau.
Las Vegas Sands executives said they are waiting to hear from the Chinese government about renewing gaming permits that expire in 2022.
Five other gaming companies have licenses -- MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts in the U.S. along with Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts & Entertainment and SJM Holdings.
Las Vegas Sands, which lost its leader with the death of Sheldon Adelson in January, will exit the Strip by the end of 2021.
It sold the Venetian Resort and Sands Expo convention centre assets to VICI Properties for $4 billion and operations of the Venetian for $2.25 billion.
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