Las Vegas Sands Again Sued Over Macau Casino License, Plaintiff Seeking $12B

Posted on: June 9, 2021, 09:17h. 

Last updated on: June 9, 2021, 09:45h.

Las Vegas Sands is once again facing a multibillion-dollar lawsuit brought by a man who claims the company wronged him in 2001. 

Las Vegas Sands Macau lawsuit
The Sands Macau hotel and casino resort. A man claiming he was partially responsible for Las Vegas Sands receiving market access in Macau is suing the company for billions of dollars. (Image: Las Vegas Sands)

The case stems from when Sands initiated its campaign to win licensure in Macau after Portugal handed back the enclave to China. Macau officials decided to end Stanley Ho and SJM Holdings’ decades-long monopoly on casino gambling and welcome in new commercial operators. 

Sands, then primarily focused on Las Vegas, pounced on the opportunity in China. The casino giant originally partnered with Taiwanese businessman Marshall Hao and his Asian American Entertainment Corporation (AAEC) to bid on one of the five Macau licenses.

But Hao claims Sands subsequently switched partners, eventually teaming up with Galaxy Entertainment. The Sands/Galaxy pitch won licensure, leaving Ho and Asian American Entertainment out.

Sands and Galaxy eventually ended their partnership, and each opened their own integrated casino resorts. 

Today, Sands owns and operates five properties in Macau: The Venetian, Sands Macau, The Londoner, Plaza and Four Seasons, and Parisian. Sands derives the majority of its revenue from its Macau operations. 

$12B Lawsuit

Hao contends in Macau court that Las Vegas Sands breached its contract with Asian American. The trial is set to begin June 16.

Hao is seeking roughly 70 percent of Sands’ profits generated in Macau from 2004 to 2022, which is the company’s entire operating time in the Chinese gaming hub. According to calculations by Reuters, that number comes to approximately $12 billion.

We are confident,” a statement from Asian American said of the litigation outcome. 

It’s not the first time Hao has sought to recoup alleged financial damages from Sands. Hao brought a similar suit against the casino operator in Nevada in 2014. The case was eventually dismissed because of statutory limitations and procedural reasons. 

Sands has yet to comment on Hao’s latest lawsuit. But in 2014, the company said the case has no merit, and lambasted Hao for repeatedly bringing the suit. 

“Using a different lawyer every time, AAEC has repeatedly filed lawsuits trying to take credit for that which they didn’t do,” a Las Vegas Sands statement read. “US courts have consistently rejected those efforts.”

Macau Litigation

While Sands has so far been successful in defending Hao’s lawsuits, the company has paid out other claims for its business dealings in Macau.

In 2013, the company was ordered by a Nevada jury to pay Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen $70 million. Suen argued in court that he was responsible for arranging the meetings in Macau that led to Sands winning licensure. 

Suen’s contract, he argued, called for a $5 million “success fee” if his introductions resulted in licensure, plus two percent of the company’s casino earnings for the duration of the license. 

And in 2009, Sands settled another lawsuit with three men for an undisclosed sum who claimed they, too, helped the firm gain entry into Macau.