Robert Goldstein, the current chief executive of Las Vegas Sands, has announced that the operator is considering ‘a few opportunities’ to expand into online gaming.
In reviewing its fourth quarter and full year performance in the operator’s earnings call, Goldstein said the operator was pursuing a range of growth options, including expansion in the US land-based market.
“Yes, we’ve looked at digital,” he said. “It’s interesting, digital is quite a space. And we are exploring opportunities, looking at what might be out there.”
He added that there was “nothing concrete” in the pipeline, and the business was “simply looking, learning, observing”.
“We are learning and observing and talking to people. We are nowhere near a decision on that.”
Sheldon Adelson, the founder and long-serving chief executive of Sands, was seen in the United States as the highest-profile critic of online gambling.
Goldstein, however, argued that Adelson, who passed away earlier in January, actually knew and believed in digital gaming’s future.
Adelson’s ethical concerns
“He just simply had this outsized ethical concern about people who couldn’t afford it or people that were too young to use it,” Goldstein explained. “And he wasn’t a believer in the technology could stop that.
“He never questioned the viability of it. He questioned the ability to police it properly, the same way he paid people hundreds of millions of dollars last year because he wanted to. It’s an ethical consideration to Sheldon.”
Goldstein, who last week was named Aldeson’s successor as Sands chairman and CEO, said prior to his death, they had addressed online gaming.
Reviewing the future of assets
The earnings call also saw Sands managers struggle with rumours that the company was considering divesting any or all of its assets in Las Vegas.
Although they did not fully deny that the company was reviewing the future of those assets, Patrick Dumont, who succeeded Goldstein as president and chief operating officer, said Las Vegas was on the path to recovery.
“We have a very positive view in Las Vegas,” Dumont said. “I think long term, it’s irreplaceable [as] a tourist destination. A huge amount of investment going into Las Vegas.
“We think there’s a huge amount of potential pent-up demand just looking at other markets when there’s been a return. And really, the restriction in Las Vegas now are based on the capacity constraints set by the government. On weekends, we’re actually doing quite well.”
Golstein added that in New York, Sands wanted to explore possibilities, saying the operator saw the market as a “extraordinary opportunity.” In Texas, which he described as potentially a “great” casino market, it was also “kicking the tires.”
“So these are opportunities that we – with our balance sheet and strength – we would jump into with both feet,” he said.