Gambling

Sands Disappointed In New York Process, Bullish On Thailand

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Posted on: April 18, 2024, 04:13h. 

Last updated on: April 18, 2024, 04:13h.

Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) is dismayed about the length of time it’s taking New York regulators to open the bidding window for three downstate casino permits, but the operator is optimistic about the possibilities in Thailand.

Sands Long Island
Nassau Coliseum where Las Vegas Sands wants to build a casino resort. The operator said it’s frustrated by the bidding process in New York. (Image: LongIsland.com)

Executives from the largest gaming company by market value made comments to that effect on a late Wednesday conference call with analysts following the firm’s first-quarter earnings report. In response to a question from UBS analyst Robin Farley, Sands CFO Patrick Dumont said the corporation is “very disappointed by New York” because it was expected the bidding process there would commence this year. Now, it appears as though that could be a 2025 or 2026 event.

I don’t think we have any real clarity. And to be honest with you, it’s confusing and disappointing because we’ve done a lot of work in New York and a lot of time into it,” said Dumont. “So I have no guidance because I don’t really know what to tell you with candor and insight.”

LVS is hoping to build a $6 billion casino hotel at the site of Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale.

Sands Wishing Upon a New York Star

Entering this year, it was hoped that the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) and other regulators would be able to field bids from the nearly dozen companies vying for the three downstate licenses because there were would be budget benefits from the application fees.

However, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D-NY) budget for the current fiscal year didn’t include receipts related to those costs. Nor did it include the expected $500 million (perhaps more) that the three winning bidders would pay to the state for the licenses.

Part of the holdup stems from legal and zoning issues facing some of the gaming companies participating in the process. On Long Island, Hofstra University sued Sands, alleging the operator’s lease agreement with Nassau County violated the state’s open meeting laws. Appeals to a 2023 ruling in the college’s favor are working through New York’s higher courts.

“Just don’t know about New York,” added Dumont on the call. “We wish they figured it out and let us know. We just don’t know. So we’ll remain hopeful that things turn around there.”

Sands Could Be Thailand Player

While the New York casino process is moving slower than operators hoped for, the opposite is true in Thailand. There, proposals to launch entertainment districts including casino hotels have significant momentum and at the current pace, could be approved by the government at some point this year.

That momentum has caught the eyes of Sands management, which makes sense given the operator’s status as one of the dominant gaming companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We absolutely have interest in Thailand. To your point, it could happen quicker than Japan. I think it’s conceivable. It’s early days, though we still have work to do with the numbers and understanding it,” said LVS CEO Rob Goldstein in response to a question from Macquarie analyst Chad Beynon. “It’s a very, very exciting market in a lot of levels, and just the sheer size of population, the accessibility and the willingness of people travel to Thailand. It’s obviously, I think, the number one resort destination city in Asia.”

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