Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) waded into the online gaming arena and now it appears the Asia-Pacific casino behemoth quietly departed the industry.
In the most recent edition of its bi-weekly EKG Line report, research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG) noted the casino operator folded its digital gaming investment arm. That unit was created in July 2021 and was designed to pave the way for Sands to be a “strategic investor” in the business-to-business side of the online gaming industry.
Digital gaming and other related offerings are still very much in the early stages of development, and we believe there is an outstanding opportunity for us to invest in the technologies being developed,” said LVS CEO Rob Goldstein in a statement issued at the time.
However, Davis Catlin and David Williams — two of the leaders of Sands’ online gaming investment arm — departed and set up their own gambling investment firm called Discerning Capital, according to EKG.
“Existing investments are thought to be broadly unimpacted, though there is speculation Sands could try to sell the investments to a third party,” noted the research firm.
Optimism for Sans Online Footprint Quickly Erodes
When Goldstein took the top spot at Sands in January 2021 following the passing of Sheldon Adelson, there was optimism in the gaming industry the company could finally forge deeper into iGaming and sports wagering.
Adelson long opposed online casinos, saying they could foster problematic wagering habits among users. However, it was widely believed that Goldstein was warmer to the iGaming and sports wagering and that Sands could make related moves.
Indeed, the largest US-based casino operator by market value invested in several online gaming entities, including Huddle Tech and US Integrity — a provider of data analytics and technology used to identify unscrupulous betting behavior, including match-fixing and other forms of game manipulation. In March, Sands took a stake in video game maker Fortis.
LVS hasn’t yet announced sales of its internet gaming investments and it’s possible the operator will one day return to the space.
Sands “historically been wary of the industry, but sources did not rule out a return to the sector in the future, not least because of its existing investments and other online gambling technology assets the company has accrued over the past year,” added EKG.
Sands Online Departure May Have Claimed Victims
As the research firm points out, LVS throwing in the towel on internet gaming is a move that may be causing some collateral damage.
“Sources said multiple signed term sheets were pulled. One startup was courting investment from multiple investors but told them Sands was taking the entire round,” according to EKG. “Months later when Sands pulled the term sheet, none of the previously interested parties were willing to put in any money and the business was left high and dry.”
Sands didn’t publicly reveal why it’s stepping away from online gaming investments, but there’s speculation the move is the result of the company’s plan to focus on Macau and the retendering process there.
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