Adelson journey proves fruitless

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson was so determined to quash MGM Mirage’s joint-venture deal in Macau with Hong Kong businesswoman Pansy Ho that he flew to Mississippi to discuss the matter with Gov. Haley Barbour.

Barbour thought Adelson was coming to propose an investment in the state’s rebuilding Gulf Coast casino industry. He was wrong.

MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni related the story to writer Connie Bruck, whose 12,000-word profile of Adelson appeared in the June 30 issue of The New Yorker. Lanni said Adelson was angry that MGM Mirage majority shareholder Kirk Kerkorian turned down a Macau partnership proposal.

MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman declined to comment on the New Yorker story.

According to the article, Adelson told Barbour the Mississippi Gaming Commission should reject the MGM Mirage-Pansy Ho deal. State regulators allowed the deal to go forward. In December, the $1.25 billion MGM Grand Macau opened.

Lanni and Barbour have known each other since the 1990s, when Barbour headed the Republican National Committee. The governor’s office confirmed the meeting to The New Yorker but didn’t discuss details.

Adelson refused to be interviewed by Bruck. The article focused mostly on the billionaire’s political interests in Israel but did touch on Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen’s $43.8 million lawsuit verdict against Las Vegas Sands last month in Clark County District Court.

“Mr. Adelson neither seeks nor desires media coverage of his private life and as such declined to be interviewed for this story,” Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said in an e-mailed statement. “The New Yorker however had already conceived the story they wanted to print and left no stone unturned in their efforts to seek out any source (mostly unnamed) with a personal or professional bias against Mr. Adelson.”

***

Casino technology provider Progressive Gaming International Corp. has placed a sales office in Toronto, much to the pleasure of company chairman Russ McMeekin, a native of Ontario, Canada.

“With the creation of this new position and the maintaining of our technical center in Calgary, the company is recognizing the importance of the Canadian market,” McMeekin said.

***

For the third time in five weeks a slot machine at McCarran International Airport has paid off. A 38-year-old San Antonio man, on his way home, put $20 in a Wheel of Fortune MegaJackpot slot machine and walked away with more than $1.4 million. In May, similar slot machines at McCarran paid jackpots of $391,979 and $257,945.

Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Sundays. E-mail him at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or call 702-477-3871.

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