Las Vegas Sands CEO Rob Goldstein has provided some extraordinary colour on the company’s bid for a New York casino licence.
What’s at stake?
In April of last year, New York officials authorised up to three casino licences for downstate New York, including in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County.
Despite legalising online sports betting last year, New York is considered one of the last major untapped gambling markets in the US due to a combination of its flourishing tourism industry and heaving metropolitan area home to some 23 million residents.
Winning a licence would be a financial game-changer for any interested casino operator, and it would be fair to say that Las Vegas Sands has thrown its hat into the ring.
The company – which boasts six casino properties and integrated resorts across Macau and Singapore, as well as a corporate HQ in Las Vegas – is all in on securing a New York licence.
No half measures
Fielding analyst questions on New York during the firm’s Q4 results call, CEO Goldstein described the state as an “extraordinary and unique” opportunity.
“I think for the winning bidder, or bidders, it’s going to be an amazing opportunity because of a very simple dynamic of a huge market with limited capacity.
LVS CEO Rob Goldstein: “We think in terms of the casino business, [New York] will be our biggest revenue generator.”
“It’s probably the only place in the US where you can have millions and millions of people, and yet there’ll be probably just a handful of casinos total.
“The win per units there will be exceptional. The lucky winner is going to do very, very well,” he added.
If the company’s bid for a New York casino licence is successful, Goldstein said no expense would be spared in turning the potential property into a “full-blown resort”.
Deep pocketsHe suggested a budget of between $4bn and $5bn for building the resort, which he is convinced could pay off handsomely in the long run.
“It’s not meant to be a small-time investment,” he told investors. “We’re going all the way in and building something transformational that drives tourism.
“We think in terms of the casino business, it will be the biggest revenue generator.”
Goldstein said the project would not merely consist of a casino floor and slot machines, but would become a fully integrated resort, similar in stature to the firm’s Marina Bay Sands property in Singapore.
LVS COO Patrick Dumont: “We wouldn’t be interested in New York if we didn’t think the returns were there.”
Goldstein’s vision for the property includes a large hotel, a spa, a convention space, “dozens” of restaurants, a new theatre and huge entertainment features.
“We are talking about a transformational product which will positively impact the community and grow tourism as a powerful statement.
“We’re not looking to be in this thing in a limited way.” On the scale of the opportunity, he added: “It won’t come along again. I think this is it, one and done. We’re trying very hard.”
Despite the scale of investment required to build such a property, Las Vegas Sands COO Patrick Dumont reassured investors the company does not invest in projects that are unlikely to make money.
The company’s refusal to enter the online gambling or sports betting space, where many operators have to date stacked up huge losses, is perhaps evidence of that.
“We try to best deploy capital in the highest return outcomes,” said Dumont. “We wouldn’t be interested in New York if we didn’t think the returns were there.”