Recovery of Macau’s gaming market is moving very slowly, a result of a year-long COVID-19 pandemic that continues to hint at a resurgence. Even as some progress has been made in controlling the coronavirus and getting Macau back on its feet, Robert Goldstein, the chairman, and CEO of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), isn’t happy with the pace of recovery. During the Bernstein Annual Strategic Decisions Conference held yesterday, Goldstein asserted that he is “disappointed” with how slowly Macau is coming back to life.
LVS Hoped For a Quicker Rebound
Macau has suffered for more than a year because of COVID-19, with monthly gross gaming revenue (GGR) falling to zero several times and staying at almost that level for the entire period. This past April showed some indications of improvement, but Goldstein had hoped to see bigger strides made. During yesterday’s conference, which was hosted by Vitaly Umansky of the Sanford C. Bernstein brokerage, the executive asserted that he was “hoping for a quicker recovery.”
Goldstein added that he understood the pressure government, health, and casino officials are under to balance the city’s commercial activity with health concerns, which continues to weigh heavily on all decisions made. International travel is still restricted significantly and, even though a travel bubble had been created between Macau and China, the city’s largest traffic feeder, new spikes in COVID-19 cases in China are giving rise to enhanced restrictions and travel fears.
LVS Takes It On The Chin
LVS had had a lot of difficulty in recent years as the global gaming industry has evolved. It has changed its focus somewhat, selling its Las Vegas properties in favor of new markets. One of those markets was expected to be Texas and the casino operator began a massive campaign to promote casinos and sports gambling in the state last year. Despite having spent millions of dollars for the cause, Texas lawmakers couldn’t be convinced that the state was ready for expanded gambling.
LVS had also determined that Asia was going to be a key market, of which Macau and Singapore would be major parts. However, neither location is currently able to support the company because of the still-ongoing pandemic. Still, Goldstein is confident that Asia, in the long-term, will be a significant region and that “long-term demand” in Macau and expansion into other parts of Asia will give it a boost.
In addition to land-based casino operations, LVS is ready to tackle something that probably has Sheldon Adelson doing flip-flops in his grave. The company’s founder was adamantly opposed to online gaming of any kind and spent millions of dollars campaigning against it before he passed away earlier this year. However, Goldstein doesn’t share the same resentment and indicated during yesterday’s meeting that the company is “committed” to becoming part of the iGaming industry in the US and possibly in Canada, Europe, or South America.