In a recent interview, Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) CEO Rob Goldstein indicated the gaming company is in talks to bring an integrated resort to an unidentified Asian nation. A research firm believes the country in question is Thailand.
In an interview last week with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Goldstein said Sands had “interesting conversations” with a “major” Asian country, noting that multiple nations in the region approached the operator over the years. Bernstein analyst Vitaly Umansky says it’s possible Thailand is the country Goldstein is declining to identify.
We believe Las Vegas Sands is hinting at a potential opportunity in Thailand, which has seen an increase in interest from the government on looking at gaming legalization,” said the analyst in a note to clients.
Following the recently completed the $6.25 billion sale of its home city assets — Venetian, Palazzo and Venetian Expo — Sands is entirely focused on Asia by way of its five integrated resorts in Macau and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Thailand Talk Has Merit
While Thailand lacks the gaming infrastructure seen in other nations in the region, including Macau, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea, the country is showing signs it’s increasingly open to the idea of integrated resorts.
Last year, policymakers there indicated casino gaming could be inching closer to reality. To that end, several committees were created to explore issues, including tax collection, where an integrated resort will be located, attracting investment, operations and impact on local communities.
“This is not the first time Thailand has been talked about as a gaming opportunity. The market potential could be substantial; however, as with all gaming legalizations, the devil is in the details,” said Bernstein’s Umansky.
Those devils could include tepid support locals for casino gaming — polls indicate a majority oppose it — how long it takes the Thai parliament to approve it and related policy framework. In 2020, LVS abandoned plans for an integrated resort in Japan, citing ongoing bureaucratic delays and guidelines that made substantial investment in Asia’s second-largest economy unattractive.
LVS, Thailand May Have Previously Flirted
Assuming it’s Thailand Goldstein is referencing, this might not be the first time Sands and the country have flirted.
In 2015, The Nation — a Thai newspaper — reported Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd. was interested in opening an integrated resort in the Southeast Asian nation. That company is the unit of LVS that operates the Singapore gaming venue.
In the interview with the Review-Journal, Goldstein indicated a new project in Asia could be to the scale of Marina Bay Sands. Should that plan come to fruition, it could be to the delight of LVS shareholders and Thai tax collectors as well because that casino-resort, in a normal operating environment, is the most profitable in the world.
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