While the Macau government may have rejected Sands China’s application to develop plots 7 and 8 on the Special Administrative Region’s Cotai Strip, Las Vegas Sands honcho Sheldon Adelson doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. At least, not cheerfully. In January, Sands appealed the decision to the Court of Second Instance, and the lack of a judicial response has Adelson taking his frustrations to the press. Adelson told the Macau Daily Times that he felt the government’s decision to hold plots 7 and 8 in reserve was misguided, because “when you change a law, whoever is in the midst of taking certain steps, should be allowed to continue to complete whatever they are doing.”
Adelson stressed that suing the government wasn’t his preferred option. “I would much rather sit down and amicably negotiate out a solution … I have given instructions for that to happen.” (If this was Star Trek: Next Generation, Adelson would have added: ‘Make it so.’) Adelson also took issue with the SAR’s decision to cap table growth at 3% until 2020. “It is not the cap on tables that really makes the difference. What makes the difference is the number of places that are competing for the customer. All the government really has to do is to limit the number of sublicenses.” Just not those on Cotai plots 7 and 8.
Over in Asia’s other casino hub, Singapore, Las Vegas Sands’ president/COO Michael Leven claims the government asked his outfit (and presumably Marina Bay Sands’ competitor Resorts World Sentosa) to monitor the number of locals crossing the casino threshold. In May, Leven told Inside Asian Gaming that his company was “basically told that as long as only about 30% of the people coming in are Singaporean, then it shouldn’t be a problem.” At the time, Leven noted that this hadn’t been a real concern, as “only about 3%” of the local population had darkened their casino doors.
Nevertheless, the government is contemplating expanding the criteria for the two integrated resorts’ exclusion lists. Currently, Singaporeans who haven’t emerged from personal bankruptcy or who are receiving government financial assistance cannot patronize the casinos. Now some MPs are suggesting people with bad credit scores should automatically be excluded. Other MPs are preaching caution, fearing such a step could lead to a blanket ban imposed on low-income Singaporeans. In other misguided government moves, the $100 entry fee imposed on locals may be having unintended consequences. Intended to limit locals’ number of visits, anecdotal evidence suggests that the fee – which is good for a single 24-hour period – may be encouraging diehard gamblers to (a) gamble more intensely while they’re inside, and (b) return to the casino mere hours after leaving in order to maximize the ‘value’ of their $100 fee. D’oh…