Macau and Singapore should see the same type of pent-up demand currently being observed in the U.S. casino market when international travel is allowed to resume, according to Las Vegas Sands executives.
CEO Rob Goldstein and President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Dumont gave their observations on prospects for Las Vegas Sands and the broader gaming markets in a “fireside chat” at the Bernstein 2021 Strategic Decisions Conference.
The executives noted that China is being extremely cautious about reopening for travel, although vaccination rates are picking up which may mean the situation will ease. However, in the short term at least, curbs on international travel are likely to benefit Macau, funnelling pent-up Mainland demand to the territory.
U.S. Q1 gambling revenue was 4.1 percent above the industry’s pre-pandemic level in Q1 2019 and matched the highest grossing quarter ever, which was Q3, 2019, as the U.S. reopened.
Las Vegas Sands believes Macau is still the best land-based gaming market to invest in, with capacity expansion capable of generating a return in the above mid-teens percent.
Sands China opened the first phase of its Londoner resort in February. The property is a $1.9 billion revamp of the former Sands Cotai Central. It has also added an all-suite tower at the Four Seasons.
The executives said customer feedback on the Londoner had so far been better than management expectations and the London-themed property has the potential to reach the same level of performance as sister IR The Venetian.
Las Vegas Sands is currently sitting on a $6 billion cash pile after selling its resorts in Las Vegas.
Management is actively looking for expansion opportunities and is keen to enter the igaming market, both in the U.S. and internationally. Although it says there is no opportunity in Asia in this sphere as China is highly unlikely to allow online gambling.
Las Vegas Sands has lagged some of its peers in entering igaming, in part due to the opposition of founder and former Chairman Sheldon Adelson who died in January.
The executives told Bernstein that the company is also evaluating its options when it comes to increasing its ownership in Hong Kong-listed Sands China and may be prepared to take a larger stake if it finds other investment opportunities are limited.
When it comes to Singapore, they said local demand had been helping to support revenue at Marina Bay Sands, however further growth depends on a resumption of travel from its local feeder markets and the “timing of such remains uncertain.”
Management is still working with the Singapore government on the details of its Phase 2 expansion in Singapore, where it has pledged to invest S$4.5 billion in return for further gaming capacity.
The company has previously said it expects the pandemic to alter the timeframe for the expansion, however, the management team remains bullish in the long run.