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Las Vegas Sands reports first profitable quarter since 2019

Recovery in the travel and tourism markets in Macao and Singapore propelled Las Vegas Sands Corp. to its first profitable quarter since 2019, the company reported Wednesday.

Sands executives — using a blend of sports metaphors during its earnings call — said the bounceback in Asia, particularly in Macao and Singapore, where the company is the market leader, has only just begun.

“While travel restrictions and reduced visitation continued to impact our financial performance during the quarter, a robust recovery in travel and tourism spending across our markets is now underway,” Sands Chairman and CEO Rob Goldstein told investors. “We remain enthusiastic about the opportunity to welcome more guests back to our properties throughout 2023 and in the years ahead.”

Goldstein said the recovery in Macao “is in the early innings,” and if the recovery were a round of golf, “we wouldn’t even be on the first tee … we’d be on the driving range.”

The Chinese central government lifted travel restrictions due to the spread of the COVID-19 panemic in early January and Macao’s casino operators got their first taste of a prospective recovery during Lunar New Year celebrations later in the month.

Goldstein said February is normally an average month for tourism, but large crowds arrived in March, which Grant Chum, chief operating officer and executive director of Sands China Ltd., called “a very pleasing month.”

Uptick good for Sands

Sands officials concluded that the recovery will be particularly good for the company because of its size in the market.

“In Macao, we were pleased to see the ongoing recovery now underway in all gaming and nongaming segments accelerate during the quarter,” Goldstein said. “We remain deeply enthusiastic about the opportunity to continue our investments to enhance Macao’s tourism appeal to travelers from throughout the region, including to foreign visitors to Macao. Our decades-long commitment to making investments that enhance the business and leisure tourism appeal of Macao and support its development as a world center of business and leisure tourism positions us exceedingly well to deliver strong growth as visitation to the market increases and the recovery in travel and tourism spending proceeds.”

For the first quarter that ended March 31, Sands reported net income of $943 million, 19 cents a share, on revenue of $2.12 billion, more than twice the revenue reported in the first quarter of 2022.

That compares with a net loss of $302 million, 49 cents a share, on revenue of $943 million a year earlier.

Renovation fast-tracked

In Singapore, where Sands operates the Marina Bay Sands and is speeding up a $1 billion renovation project there, results were just as robust.

“In Singapore, we were pleased to see the ongoing recovery at Marina Bay Sands progress during the quarter, with the property again delivering outstanding levels of performance in both mass gaming and tenant sales,” Goldstein said.

He briefly discussed Sands’ position in New York, where the company is bidding for one of three downstate New York licenses.

The company entered into agreements to purchase the long-term lease of the site currently home to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island. The transactions would give the company control of up to 80 acres in Nassau County.

Goldstein told investors that Sands “has a compelling bid in New York, very much in the LVS spirit.”

He doesn’t expect to hear anything about the licensing process in New York until early 2024.

The Long Island development would include outdoor community spaces, four- and five-star hotel rooms and a live performance venue honoring the legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum.

The company said the resort property would also feature celebrity chef restaurants, experiential events and venues and flexible meeting and convention space, including ballrooms. Other amenities would include casino gaming, which is planned to represent less than 10 percent of the project’s total square footage, a day spa, swimming pool and health club, and a variety of other entertainment programming.

Sands will be competing with some of the biggest brands in the casino and leisure industries. Among the company’s competitors in New York are Genting Group of Malaysia, which operates Resorts World New York City at the Aqueduct Racetrack; MGM Resorts International, operating the Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway; Caesars Entertainment Inc., which is partnering with SL Green Realty Corp. on a project at Times Square; Wynn Resorts Ltd., which is partnering with Related Companies for a project in Manhattan near the Javits Center convention facility; New York Mets owner Steve Cohen who wants to build at Willets Point, the home of the baseball team’s Citi Field; and Legends, affiliated with the Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees, the Chickasaw Nation Indian Tribe, and Saratoga Casino Holdings at Coney Island in Brooklyn.

Texas update

Sands is also a key player in the bid to legalize casino gambling in Texas.

Earlier this month, the House State Affairs Committee advanced two gaming bills supporting casinos and sports wagering to the full House. But the legislation faces an uphill fight in the Senate, where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a staunch opponent of gaming in the state, presides.

Sands has lobbyists in support of the casino bill, which would allow for the construction of four integrated resorts throughout the state. The state’s 11 professional sports franchises that once opposed gambling because they feared it would damage the integrity of their games are now supporting both bills as a potential new revenue source.

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 Twitter.

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