What’s Next For Las Vegas Sands Without Sheldon Adelson?

What’s Next For Las Vegas Sands Without Sheldon Adelson?
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Given Sheldon Adelson’s outsized presence as founder and controlling hand of Las Vegas Sands, his death on Monday understandably leads to questions about the direction of the company that has such a prominent gaming presence in Las Vegas and in Asia.

Jason Ader, who once served on the board of directors of Las Vegas Sands and is now CEO of SpringOwl Asset Management, indicated in an interview with Gambling.com a few months ago that he anticipated the company would evolve smoothly in a post-Adelson era.

Ader pointed to Las Vegas Sands executives who fall just under Adelson in the corporate leadership organization chart: Patrick Dumont, the company’s chief financial officer, executive vice president and Adelson’s son-in-law, and Rob Goldstein, a longtime company executive who was named acting chairman and CEO a week ago when Adelson took a leave from the company.

Adelson, 87, was CEO and chairman of the board until taking a medical leave to resume treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma just days before his death on Jan. 11.

“Patrick is an extremely gifted corporate leader. He’s been with the company now for many years. He represents the family,” Ader said. Adelson’s wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, was active in Adelson’s political and charitable activities and appears poised to continue.

“There has been a succession plan that’s been in place for quite some time … And it includes Patrick representing the family’s interests. Depending on the day, (Patrick) is No. 2 or maybe No. 3 along with Rob Goldstein on that leadership team.”

Las Vegas Sands Has Been Active

At the moment, there are several pots boiling for Las Vegas Sands. A few months ago, there were reports that the company would considering selling its Las Vegas properties, the Venetian and the Palazzo, two opulent casino-resorts and the Sands Expo Convention Center, all located near where the old Sands Casino of Rat Pack fame once stood. The rumored price tag was $6 billion.

In addition, Las Vegas Sands has dispatched a small army of lobbyists to help sway Texas legislators on the issue of gambling. The second largest state in the country with nearly 30 million people, Texas has no bricks-and-mortar casinos and no online gaming.

In December, Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands’ top lobbyist, announced Las Vegas Sands’ interest in Texas, noting that it was an opportunity of interest along with Japan, Brazil and New York. Las Vegas Sands has a substantial international presence with five casinos in Macau, which are main drivers in the company’s revenues, and one in Singapore.

“We view Texas as a worldwide destination and one of the top potential markets in the entire world,” Abboud said during a conference in Texas. “Texas is considered the biggest plum still waiting to be out there in the history of hospitality and gaming.”

Online Gaming Opposition Fades

And then there’s the issue of online gaming. An outlier in the gambling industry on the topic, Adelson was once fiercely opposed to internet gaming on moral grounds contending it would lead to greater problems with addiction and attendant social ills. As a result, he was the force behind proposed legislation, The Restoration of America’s Wire Act, which would have reined in the expansion of online gaming. However, that fight has seemed to cool considerably.

“There’s no stopping online gaming,” Ader said. “(Las Vegas Sands’) initiatives to stop online gaming, at this stage, are largely historic. There hasn’t been a lot of spending recently to do that, especially post-pandemic.”

“I think the company will see the value created by DraftKings and FanDuel and Penn (National) Gaming and others. They’re not foolish,” Ader added.

There’s also been some push for online gambling in Macau, where Las Vegas Sands has a substantial stake.

“There has been talk in Macau of legalizing online gaming and I guarantee Sands will be involved in Macau online gaming, fully licensed, fully regulated by the Chinese government,” Ader said.

A Colossus in Gaming

No one questions that Adelson made himself a colossus in gaming. Venturing into China was as big a gamble any taken by the high-rollers who sat at his baccarat tables in Las Vegas — and it paid off handsomely for both the man and the company.

Publicly traded Las Vegas Sands has a market capitalization of more than $41 billion. Adelson described entrepreneurship as an exercise in calculated risk-taking. That willingness to take risks and the skill in managing those risks made him one of the world’s richest men, worth around $30 billion.

Now, the company Adelson founded is a much larger ship to steer with responsibilities to tens of thousands of employees and investors. Opportunity and risk that he balanced so artfully will be measured by those whom the gaming giant has put in place to guide Las Vegas Sands’ future.

“In the end, they’ll do what’s best for the shareholders … which include some of the biggest and best (investment) funds. Most of the shareholders are still there from when I was on the board,” Ader said when discussing a possible sale of the Las Vegas properties. “These are long-term shareholders who know the company is going to do the right things by management ownership and shareholder ownership.”

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