International edition
June 14, 2021

“Mini-Las Vegas" includes 12 resorts

Sands' Adelson plans us$ 35 billion casino-resort in Spain

(Spain).- US billionaire Sheldon Adelson said last week that he plans to spend us$ 35 billion on a mini-Las Vegas strip in Spain where he is courting the country's two top urban areas, Barcelona and Madrid, with plans for a casino complex.

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delson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp, was speaking at a press conference ahead of the opening of his new casino property in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, the world's largest casino destination, where he is expected to increase market share considerably over the next 12 months.

"We are looking at 12 integrated resorts, 3,000 rooms each. A mini Las Vegas, about half the size of the Las Vegas strip in Spain for the European market," said Adelson.

Each building would cost between us$ 2.5 and us$ 3 billion and the company would target customers from Western and Eastern Europe in addition to the former Soviet bloc.

Adelson did not address the debt crisis that has gripped Europe, although he has said that the complex in Spain would be a five to 10-year project, by which time he expected demand to have picked up significantly.

Las Vegas Sands said in February that it was studying an investment of as much as 15 billion euros (us$ 20 billion) over 10 years in a casino complex in Spain that would include 36,000 hotel beds, 18,000 slot machines and three golf courses.

Banking on Asia

On his Asian expansion plans, Adelson said he would continue to develop integrated resorts in the region after the success of his properties in Macau and Singapore, where his casino is among the most profitable in the world.

"We are looking to build two each in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Taiwan is late in catching up. There is pending legislation in the other three countries," said Adelson, one of the world's richest men worth an estimated us$ 25 billion, according to Forbes.

Under its us$ 31 billion Macau unit, Sands China, the group already has two casinos open in the special administrative region of China just one hour by ferry from Hong Kong.

The new Sands Cotai Central, erected opposite Adelson's Italian-themed Venetian, will cost us$ 5 billion upon completion, slightly cheaper than the company's us$ 6 billion Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, he said. "The total cost up till now is us$ 4.4 billion, but who is counting?" Adelson said, laughing.

The final price tag would be roughly twice the cost of local player Galaxy Entertainment Group's Galaxy Macau, which opened last year.

The project will add 5,800 hotel rooms to Macau's supply constrained market, as well as 300,000 square feet of gambling space and 1.2 million square feet of shopping, entertainment, dining and convention facilities.

Estimated to increase Macau's total hotel capacity by 26 percent, the property will house the Conrad, Sheraton and Holiday Inn hotel brands. Conrad and Holiday Inn will open immediately, while the Sheraton will open in the second half.

Challenges along the way

The opening of Sands Cotai Central comes after lengthy delays in construction which began in 2008 when the financial crisis hit and the company laid off hundreds of workers. Adelson said on Wednesday the delay was not just due to financing, but also a shortage of labour and issues over the number of gaming tables.

As the only operator to open a new casino resort in Macau this year, analysts say Sands China is likely to increase its approximately 16 percent share of Macau's gaming market to 25 percent within the next year. "We are submitting plans for another 3,600-room property next to Four Seasons. We hope to move some dirt around...put in pilage before the end of this year," Adelson said, referring to Parcel 3, a plot of land already allocated to the group. It would take between 24 and 44 months to build.

His application for land sites 7 and 8, where he had planned to build more gaming properties on Macau's Cotai strip, was rejected by the Macau government in 2010 after the firm already invested around us$ 160 million on the site. He said on Wednesday that he was in talks with the government about potential modifications the company would have to go through.

It has been far from a smooth journey in Macau for Adelson, who was born into a Jewish immigrant family in Boston and started work by selling newspapers on street corners. He is embroiled in a number of lawsuits, including one with Steve Jacobs, the former fired head of Sands' Macau operations. Jacobs is suing for breach of contract and now working with the U.S. government on corruption investigations involving Sands China.

Shares in Sands China were down 3 percent on Wednesday, lagging a 1.2 percent drop in the main Hong Kong index.

Macau, the only place where Chinese nationals are legally allowed to gamble in casinos, said gambling revenue surged 24.4 percent in March to us$3.1 billion, in line with forecasts.

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