Las Vegas Sands CEO: Singapore doing well, while Macau is “pleasant surprise”

April 19, 2023 8:57 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
April 19, 2023 8:57 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
  • China
  • Macau
  • Nevada
  • Singapore

The chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. said Wednesday that “business is back” in Macau as he announced a strong earnings report for the first quarter of 2023.

During a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Rob Goldstein said, “The results speak for themselves; there’s a powerful recovery underway in Macau” in both gaming and non-gaming segments. He said the future looks good not only for Macau, but Singapore as well.

“Our commitment to invest in both Macau and Singapore has never wavered,” Goldstein said. “Macau, following the relaxation of travel restrictions, experienced increased visitation and gaming volumes, retail sales, and hotel occupancy during the quarter.”

Goldstein said Sands China is positioned to grow for years to come, with the company’s investment in non-gaming segments, including meetings and conventions, hotel suites, live entertainment, food and beverage, and retail.

“Our focus is on all segments of the Macau market, including international tourists,” Goldstein said. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to deploy more capital to expand our non-gaming offerings in Macau.”

Goldstein said Macau remains in early days as far as a return to a “more normal operating environment,” which isn’t representative of what can and will happen.

Patrick Dumont, LVS president and COO, cited a material difference in performance across the quarter. “It’s exciting to see the recovery and increase in tourism. In March, things were going full steam ahead. Overall, our long-term outlook for margins is quite strong.”

Macau visitation in March was up 22% compared to the first two months of the year and Sands reported gaming handle up 10% in March versus January and February. Hotel occupancy increased by 8% as increased labor helped operate more rooms.

Marina Bay Sands in Singapore delivered $394 million in adjusted earnings in the first quarter. Mass win was an all-time property record at $549 million and rolling volume was equal to 2019 levels. Its $1 billion suite and casino renovation program is progressing and more suites will come online in 2023, Goldstein said.

“The one thing I was wrong about was the super high-end premium customer in Asia. I thought we would completely dominate in Singapore,” Goldstein said. “We’re seeing that Singapore is doing very well by equaling our 2019 rolling volume, but what surprised me is the international demand for Macau. We can be rolling far in excess of $20 to $25 billion annually if this keeps going. It hasn’t hurt in Singapore, although it could have some impact because there is only so much money out there. Singapore’s slot numbers are astounding, plus our non-rolling wins exceeding $6 million a day is extraordinary. That’s with impediments and big headwinds of rooms being down, the casino torn up, and yet-to-recover Chinese consumers into Singapore. The pleasant surprise is Macau is continuing to attract a strong international Asian high-end customer and yet we’re doing fine in Singapore.”

Goldstein said the surprise to him has been the acceptance of visitation from non-China countries into Macau. It makes sense with the quality of product, while diversity of product makes it an exciting place to visit and easy to access. “Because structured junkets are disappearing, it’s a much different approach.”