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Adelson deal to buy Dallas Mavericks could be completed in coming weeks

Updated November 29, 2023 - 5:47 pm

NBA fans shouldn’t get their hopes up for getting a Las Vegas basketball team just because Dr. Miriam Adelson is purchasing a majority share of the Dallas Mavericks.

A day after the surprising announcement that Adelson, the controlling shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is selling $2 billion of company stock to purchase a majority stake in the Mavericks from billionaire Mark Cuban for an estimated $3.5 billion, representatives of the company affirmed that the team would stay in Dallas.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to discuss the Mavericks transaction when he’s in Las Vegas next week for the semifinals and finals of the league’s first-ever in-season tournament.

Other NBA owners with Vegas ties

Adelson’s ownership of the Mavericks will have similarities to Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta’s control of the Houston Rockets NBA team. Fertitta owns downtown Las Vegas’ Golden Nugget and also is developing a 43-story central Strip property on 6.2 acres on the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue.

Because of Fertitta’s ownership of the Rockets, NBA games involving the Rockets are taken off the betting board in sportsbooks affiliated with Fertitta’s casino properties.

But unlike Fertitta, Sands has no domestic casino properties in the United States. Because Sands properties in Macao and Singapore don’t take sports wagers, the company wouldn’t have to take Mavericks betting options off the board.

Fertitta also could become an ally on bringing gaming to Texas with the prospect of building a casino resort in the Houston area if gambling were legalized.

Adelson wouldn’t become the first NBA owner to live in Las Vegas and oversee their team from afar.

George and Gavin Maloof owned the Sacramento Kings until 2013.

George Maloof, one of the founding partners of the Palms hotel-casino, said he expects Adelson’s ownership role to be similar to what he and his brother had with the Kings.

“We had a president and a general manager that pretty much ran the team for us,” George Maloof said in a Wednesday interview. “We weren’t local like Mark (Cuban) is. We lived in Las Vegas and we owned the Sacramento Kings. But we weren’t operating it day to day. Mark is more of a day-to-day operator. The way we set it up it was more of an investment. But Mark is definitely more hands-on than we ever were, for sure.”

Maloof said he thinks Adelson will be successful as an owner because of her passion for sports.

“I think she and her husband, they were great visionaries for Las Vegas,” Maloof said. “I think that they had a passion for sports that none of us really knew about.”

Fans hunger for Vegas team

Southern Nevada basketball fans are hungering for an NBA team and have gotten signals from NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and current Los Angeles Lakers power forward LeBron James that they want to land a team in Las Vegas.

In a company statement Wednesday, Sands assured that the Mavericks would stay in Dallas and that current owner Cuban would stay with the team as its director of basketball operations.

“The Adelson and Dumont families have entered into binding purchase agreements to acquire majority ownership and the right to serve as governor of the Dallas Mavericks,” the company’s statement said.

Patrick Dumont, son-in-law to Miriam Adelson, is president and chief operating officer of Sands. A person familiar with the transaction said Dumont would most likely join the NBA Board of Governors on behalf of the Adelson family. The Adelson family and not Sands would own the team, similar to the way the family and not the company own the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“The families are targeting a closing of the transaction by year-end, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions and approval of the NBA Board of Governors,” the statement said.

75 percent owner approval

The Board of Governors doesn’t have to have a formal meeting to approve the new ownership, which would require 75 percent approval, or 23 team owners, to approve the transaction, estimated to be valued at around $3.5 billion.

Dallas was one of the worst franchises in pro sports in the 1990s, but turned into one of the best under Cuban, with a lot of help from star forward Dirk Nowitzki — now a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the leader of the team that won the 2011 NBA championship.

Miriam Adelson is the controlling shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a publicly traded Las Vegas company that built the Venetian and Palazzo resorts but now only has casino operations in Macao and Singapore. Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire founder and owner of Las Vegas Sands, died in 2021 at 87.

The company on Tuesday revealed the sale of $2 billion in stock in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing identified Adelson and the Miriam Adelson Trust as sellers but didn’t specify a team, league or location.

Given the $2 billion stock sale figure, along with the cash addition, it would mean Adelson could be acquiring at least 57 percent of the NBA team based on the $3.5 billion valuation.

The 78-year-old Adelson, who is a medical doctor, will retain 51.3 percent of company shares following the sale, according to the filing.

“We have been advised by the selling stockholders that they currently intend to use the net proceeds from this offering, along with additional cash on hand, to fund the purchase of a majority interest in a professional sports franchise … subject to customary league approvals,” the company said in the SEC filing.

The vetting process for new owners in the NBA typically takes at least several weeks, and then approval must be granted by the league’s Board of Governors.

Cuban also said late last year he wanted to build a new arena in downtown Dallas that would also be a casino resort, if Texas does legalize gambling.

New Dallas arena?

Supporters of legalized gambling in Texas hoped to get a constitutional amendment to voters during the most recent session, but the measure didn’t get far in the legislative process. The Republican-controlled Legislature doesn’t meet in regular session again until 2025.

Cuban isn’t likely to disappear from the spotlight since he will retain control of basketball operations. In fact, efforts to legalize gambling in Texas could end up raising the profile of a billionaire who has been highly visible in sports, business and finance for nearly 25 years.

A self-professed basketball junkie who graduated from Indiana University, Cuban is almost always courtside for Mavericks games. He has always been outspoken, too, compiling millions in fines as owner. Many of his tirades were directed at officials.

The Review-Journal is owned by the Adelson family, including Dr. Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Las Vegas Sands President and COO Patrick Dumont.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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