Las Vegas Sands Interested in New York State Casino

Las Vegas Sands New York

Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is an example of LVS’s “high-end, grand scale” resorts.

Though Las Vegas Sands Corp. is only months away from handing off Bethlehem Sands Resort & Casino to Wind Creek Hospitality, LVS does not plan to leave the region. Las Vegas Sands Corp wants to enter the New York casino market in the next few years, at least according to Politico.

Las Vegas Sands is the largest casino company in the world. Its founder, Sheldon Adelson, the world’s richest casino mogul, the company is a global giant in gaming. The Venetian Macau in China and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore are arguably the most lucrative casinos in the world.

Bethlehem Sands in the suburbs of Philadelphia generates more revenue than any casino in Pennsylvania, the US state which collects the second-highest tax revenues from gambling in the country (behind only Nevada). It might be a surprise that LVS put the Bethlehem casino-resort up for sale, but this is the second time in two years the Las Vegas casino company tried to sell the property.

The sale makes more sense if Las Vegas Sands is going to stay in the northeast, which would allow LVS to leverage the huge and lucrative player database it’s accumulated in its 10+ years in Pennsylvania.

LVS Sells Bethlehem Sands Casino

Last year’s proposed sale for $1.3 billion to MGM Resorts fell through after several months of negotiations. This time, Wind Creek Hospitality, a casino operator in Alabama and Mississippi which is owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, bought Bethlehem Sands for $1.3 billion. The deal looks as if it will close this time, most likely in the early spring.

Wind Creek Hospitality might find it’s a business rival with Las Vegas Sands in a few years. As a Dec. 12 report from Politico noted, Sheldon Adelson and Las Vegas Sands are interested in New York state — very interested.

Sheldon Adelson Hires New York Lobbyists

Las Vegas Sands Corp hired Howard Glaser, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s onetime operations chief, as a consultant. LVS also hired Kivvit, the high-powered lobbying firm, to represent its affairs to New York lawmakers. Kivvit is known to employ Maggie Moran, Cuomo’s 2018 campaign director, as well as Rich Bamberger, Cuomo’s former communications director.

Howard Glaser’s job is to introduce LVS executives to New York state’s business leaders. Some months ago, Glaser introduced Robert Goldstein, the president and COO of Las Vegas Sands, to Kathryn Wylde, the president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City Inc.

Partnership for New York City

Kathryn Wylde also met Ron Reese, the SVP of Global Communications for Las Vegas Sands. When Wylde was asked about the conversations, she said, “They just wanted to tell us that they’re eager to do something, and that they do things at a high-end, grand scale. They’re looking for civic support.”

The speculation is Las Vegas Sands wants to build a casino in the Albany region, which some gaming analysts believes could host an integrated casino-resort. Their “high-end, grand scale” ambitions do not appear to include buying a struggling operator like Del Lago Resort or Rivers Casino, which both opened to soft numbers in the past two years.

Alan Woinski, a notable gaming analyst, told Politico that market saturation has been reached throughout much of the United States, but New York state still has growth possibilities. Woinski said, “New York is probably one of the last markets out there that you can make money on.”

New York City Competitors

Of course, New York City is where the biggest growth could happen, but LVS does not currently have plans to break into that market. If and when it does, Sheldon Adelson’s company will find two old rivals waiting there. Genting Group, the Malaysian multinational conglomerate which owns Singapore’s only other casino, Resorts World Sentosa, owns Resorts World Queens (at Aquaduct Racetrack).

MGM Resorts, a competitor to LVS in Las Vegas and Macau, is in the process of buying Yonkers Racetrack & Casino. Along with the Meadowlands Racetrack & Sportsbook on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, those are the only two legal gaming venues in the New York City greater metropolitan area.

Casino Licensing Delayed until 2023

No new casinos could be licensed for 5 more years. In 2013, New York state passed a law which allowed up to 7 new casinos. That same law stated that no new casinos could be licensed for 7 years after the first four developments went up (2016). The next three licenses won’t allow a casino until 2023.

Some believe the time frame could be compressed, but Las Vegas Sands appears as if it is playing a long game.

New York State and Las Vegas Sands are a strange fit in many experts’ opinions. Sheldon Adelson’s company is known to be anti-union. One of the reasons the company sold Bethlehem Sands was its workers successfully unionized in 2016. Yet the company has promised to allow a union if it receives a New York casino license.

Sheldon Adelson’s Ties to Trump

Beyond that, Sheldon Adelson is the largest Republican donor trying to dive into the politics of one of America’s bluest states. Sheldon Adelson is good enough friends with President Donald Trump that the POTUS recently gave Adelson’s wife, Miriam, the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her philanthropic work.

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson were two of twenty members on Donald Trump’s Inauguration Planning Committee. The two also famously snubbed Sen. Ted Cruz when he tried to enter their skybox to greet them at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Cruz had just delivered a rebuke of Donald Trump, who later thanked the Adelsons for their reaction to Cruz.

In short, Sheldon Adelson and Las Vegas Sands Corp. could present many reasons for New York’s politicians to reject their casino bid. Of course, Sheldon Adelson is one of the richest Americans — and few politicians can resist potential donors. The future is uncertain, but it is certain that Las Vegas Sands Corp. wants to build a casino in New York state and has a long term plan to make that happen.