Las Vegas Sands CEO Goldstein Frustrated by Macau Lethargy, Still Wants US Exposure

By | June 4, 2021

Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) CEO Rob Goldstein is disappointed by the sluggish rebound in Macau, but adds the company remains bullish on the world’s largest casino center long-term.

Rob Goldstein
Las Vegas Sands CEO Rob Goldstein. He’s frustrated by the rebound pace in Macau, says company still committed to US. (Image: Bloomberg)

In remarks made at the virtual Bernstein Annual Strategic Decisions Conference earlier this week, the Sands boss expressed disappointment that the special administrative region (SAR) isn’t bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic more rapidly, but added that he respects local and mainland China authorities decision to prioritize stamping out COVID-19.

We are disappointed… we were hoping for a quicker recovery,” said Goldstein at the Bernstein conference.

He added that the zero-tolerance policy regarding the virus taken by both Macau and mainland officials is understandable and that Sands has “no concerns about long-term demand” in the gaming hub.

A recent spike in coronavirus cases in neighboring Guangdong province is prompting more travel protocols, hampering Macau’s rebound efforts in the process.

Sands Macau, Singapore Data

In the first three months of this year, Macau tourist traffic was just 16 percent of the level seen in the same period of 2019. However, LVS noted mass market play was 38 percent of what it was in the first quarter of 2019.

A return to normal there is vital to Sands because Macau is the operator’s most important market and it controls five integrated resorts there. An important point in the company’s favor is that the bulk of its Macau clientele are mass and premium mass players. That provides some insulation from volatility in the VIP segment, which is proving slower to recover.

In Singapore, where LVS runs Marina Bay Sands (MBS), Goldstein said support from local gamblers is robust, but he expects that trend to wane as the city-state loosens travel protocols and allows citizens to travel outside the country and international visitors in.

Singapore locals generally prefer slots to table games, indicating MBS table profits could be slack until more international travelers are permitted to visit the country. Macau and Singapore are integral to LVS because, pending the sale of its Las Vegas assets, it has no domestic exposure.

US Comments

For the time being, Sands’ hopes of bringing an integrated resort to the potentially lucrative Texas market are dashed because the effort recently failed in the state legislature. Additionally, plans for a New York City casino — a process in which LVS was rumored to be a bidder — are on hold due to political haranguing.

Still, Goldstein said at the Bernstein conference that the company remains committed to the US. He added LVS wants to be in the online gaming arena and that desire expands beyond US borders to include Canada, Europe and South America.

While noting China is highly unlikely to consider legalized internet casinos, he didn’t specify how LVS will pursue iGaming or whether that move will include acquisitions.

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