Las Vegas Sands Eyes Thailand, Other Southeast Asian Markets after New York Delays

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) is expressing mixed emotions in its recent earnings call. While the company boasts strong financial growth in its established markets and remains "deeply enthusiastic" about future prospects, CEO Rob Goldstein revealed disappointment with licensing delays in New York and hinted at exciting new possibilities in Thailand.

The Las Vegas Sands-owned Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore. (Source: Getty Images)

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LVS has faced significant setbacks in its plan to develop a multi-billion-dollar resort and casino near the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. The project encountered opposition from Hofstra University, and legal roadblocks further complicated matters. A recent New York Supreme Court decision highlighted the lack of a valid lease for the land, forcing Nassau County to restart the process with an environmental review.

Goldstein expressed frustration with the delays, stating that the company had expected to see real progress sometime this year. However, with the ongoing issues, it could be another two or three years before new casinos are approved.

The lack of clarity and guidance from New York officials has left LVS in limbo. However, Goldstein maintained a hopeful stance, saying, "We'll remain hopeful that things turn around there."

Thailand, Rest of SEA Emerges as a Potential New Frontier

While New York presents challenges, LVS is exploring new horizons. A question from an analyst during the earnings call sparked Goldstein's interest in Thailand. He acknowledged the possibility of an integrated resort opening sooner in Thailand compared to Japan, another potential market.

Thailand's vast population, accessibility for travelers and established reputation as a premier Asian resort destination make it highly attractive for LVS. Goldstein emphasized the company's commitment to understanding the market and collaborating with stakeholders.

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The CEO has repeatedly expressed interest in opening a casino in Thailand. With the country making quick progress with its feasibility study, which could be ready within a month, it's possible LVS will be able to slip in and launch a new casino before New York or Japan.

Strong Financial Performance Despite New York Setback

Despite the New York hurdle, LVS reported impressive financial growth across its existing properties. Revenue for the first quarter of 2024 reached $2.96 billion, a significant increase from $2.12 billion in the same period last year. Operating income and net income also saw substantial growth compared to 2023. These positive results stem primarily from the ongoing recovery in Macau and record-breaking performance in Singapore.

Macau, a crucial market for LVS, has witnessed a steady recovery over the past five quarters. The company's investments in both business and leisure tourism are expected to fuel further growth, potentially propelling Macau into a $40 billion marketplace in the coming years.

Singapore's Marina Bay Sands property also achieved remarkable success, setting a new record for adjusted property EBITDA in the market. The recent refurbishment of hotel towers is anticipated to contribute to continued growth as air travel capacity improves and tourism spending in Asia increases. LVS attributes its Singaporean success to significant investments over the past few years, and it sees "a lot more runway" for future growth in the region.

While LVS acknowledges promotional efforts undertaken by competitor properties in Macau, Goldstein remains confident in the company's long-term strategy. He emphasizes the superior quality of LVS's upcoming offerings in Macau, highlighting the grand scale and growth potential of the market. Their focus remains on margins and EBITDA expansion through asset-driven strategies.

"Once the Londoner and the arena are done, they'll be the market-leading and margin-leading assets in Macau," Goldstein declared. LVS projects reaching margins in the "upper 30s" once their properties in Macau and Singapore fully realize their potential.


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