Adelson’s Passing Makes Venetian’s Future Even Murkier

Written By Marc Meltzer on January 12, 2021

Last week, Las Vegas Sands announced Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson was taking medical leave. Adelson was receiving treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Sadly, Tuesday the company announced that its founder passed away.

Prior to his passing, there were already discussions about the future of Las Vegas Sands. Going back to October 2020, there were discussions that Las Vegas Sands would depart the market where it started.

Las Vegas Sands could still sell The Venetian and The Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip.

More recently, there have been discussions about Las Vegas Sands getting into online sports betting and online gaming. All of these discussions could begin to see the light as Las Vegas Sands looks to the future.

The Venetian might be sold for $6 billion

Back in October 2020, word started to spread that Las Vegas Sands was considering a sale of its assets in Sin City. A spokesman confirmed that the company was talking about the sale of the companies Las Vegas properties. However, a deal wasn’t imminent.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Las Vegas Sands hard. The company only has one property in Las Vegas despite its name. Regional visitors may not be the high rolling customers who visit The Venetian they are still traveling to Las Vegas.

The vast majority of Las Vegas Sands properties are overseas:

  • Marina Bay Sands
  • The Parisian Macao
  • Plaza Macao
  • Sands Cotai Central
  • Sands Macao
  • The Venetian Macao

The casinos in Asia are feeling the pain of a lack of international tourists. Selling The Venetian in Las Vegas for $6 billion would go a long way in helping fund the rest of its endeavors.

The Venetian in Las Vegas is comprised of the aforementioned hotel along with The Palazzo casino and resort tower. The Sands Expo Center and Grand Canal Shoppes sit between the two Las Vegas Sands hotel towers.

Additionally, the company is a partner with the Madison Square Garden Corporation on The Sphere, an arena under construction east of The Palazzo hotel tower.

Hard Rock International may be coming to Las Vegas

Rumors about a potential sale started heating up as the calendar turned to 2021. This time there was a potential suitor attached to the discussions.

Hard Rock International (HRI) has made no secret about its desire to operate a casino in Las Vegas. Last year the company purchased the intellectual property rights to Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Hard Rock had no affiliation with the previous incarnation of the Hard Rock in Las Vegas.

Now, $6 billion is a lot of money for a casino and the rumor mill continues to say that Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust could partner with HRI. The company already has partnerships in Las Vegas with MGM Resorts for Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand. Blackstone also owns The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

A potential sale of The Venetian to HRI could bring a new sportsbook operator to Las Vegas. William Hill operates the sportsbook at The Venetian after purchasing CG Technology. William Hill has since been purchased by Caesars.

PlayNevada reached out to William Hill for comment about its agreement to operate the sportsbooks at The Venetian and The Palazzo. The company has no comment on its future at the two casinos.

Late last year, HRI  announced the creation of Hard Rock Digital. The joint venture will offer online gambling and sports betting. If the company purchases The Venetian it would likely bring its mobile sports betting to Nevada if possible.

Las Vegas Sands explores online gambling and sports betting

Even if the company doesn’t sell its Las Vegas properties, there could be a new sports betting option in Nevada.

According to Bloomberg, Las Vegas Sands has also been in discussions with potential sports betting partners.

The potential deal wouldn’t be just for a retail sportsbook operator at The Venetian and The Palazzo. Las Vegas Sands is looking to take its brand name to all states that offer legal online sports betting. It’s possible the company could also explore online casinos where available.

Adelson had been in opposition to online gambling. However, online sports betting and casinos could provide a source of revenue for a casino operator should properties need to close again in the future.

Online sports betting deals are all the rage with FuboTV announcing itself as a new player in the US sports betting market. Bally’s recently announced it would begin operating its own sportsbooks. Meanwhile, MGM Resorts is looking for ways to expand its BetMGM online gambling division.

Whether The Venetian is sold or not, it’s possible Nevada will see a new sportsbook operator.

Sheldon Adelson’s passing

Adelson passed away at age of 87 from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Bill Miller, CEO of the American Gaming Association, shared a statement about Mr. Adelson’s impact on the gaming industry.

“Today’s passing of Sheldon Adelson is a tremendous loss to the gaming community. Mr. Adelson, founder and Chairman of Las Vegas Sands, was a true visionary and pioneer of modern casino gaming for more than three decades. From Las Vegas and Pennsylvania to Macao and Singapore, his mark is indelible.

I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Adelson for more than 15 years, long before joining the American Gaming Association (AGA). It is his leadership and generosity that stand out the most to me. There’s no greater example of this than serving his community and prioritizing his employees’ well-being during the last year as our country and industry grappled with the global pandemic.

On behalf of the AGA, I share our deepest sympathies with Dr. Adelson, the Adelson family, and our gaming colleagues at Las Vegas Sands. May his memory be a blessing.”

Adelson’s funeral will be held in Israel, the birthplace of his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson. There are plans for a memorial service to be held in Las Vegas at a later date that will be announced soon.

Photo by AP / Patrick Semansky
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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