Macau Pays Respects to Sheldon Adelson, But His Death Could Impact Sands China

Posted on: January 13, 2021, 03:54h. 

Last updated on: January 13, 2021, 06:41h.

The Macau government is weighing in on the death of casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson at the age of 87.

Macau Sheldon Adelson Las Vegas Sands
Sheldon Adelson is seen here at the opening of The Venetian Macau in 2007. Government officials in the Chinese Special Administrative Region are paying their respects to him after he died yesterday. (Image: EPA)

The Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China expressed condolences to Adelson, who forever changed the enclave and its economic prosperity.

“The Government of the Macau Special Administrative Region has been informed by Sands China Ltd of the passing of Mr. Sheldon Gary Adelson, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of the company, who died of illness today,” a statement from the Government Information Bureau of Macau SAR read.

The leadership of the late Mr. Adelson has promoted the development of Sands China in Macau. The Macau SAR Government expresses its deepest sorrow on the passing of Mr. Adelson, and extends its most sincere condolences to his family,” the release added.

Adelson died yesterday from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Cotai Developer

Following its return from Portuguese to Chinese control in 1999, Macau moved to liberalize its casino industry. The region ended SJM Holdings’ monopoly and welcomed in new operators.

Adelson pounced, as he believed Asia would become the gambling epicenter of the world. He was right.

After opening integrated resort casinos on the Macau Peninsula, Adelson focused on the Macau neighborhood of Cotai. Sands used reclaimed land to build what is known today as the Cotai Strip.

Adelson wanted to create Asia’s version of the Las Vegas Strip. The Cotai Strip is where Macau’s highest rollers now gamble.

Sands to Chinese Partners?

Sands China, the Asian subsidiary operating unit of Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, is set to see its operating license expire in June of 2022. The other five gaming companies will, too.

While all are expected to be issued new concessions — but under new gaming regulatory terms — some analysts believe Adelson’s passing might open the doors for Chinese investors to take on a considerable stake in the organization.

Adelson was a megadonor to the Republican Party. He helped fund President Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns. The one-term president had a contentious and at times combative relationship with China and its President Xi Jinping.

With the billionaire global casino tycoon dead, Sands China might be wise to take on Chinese partners.

Increased Chinese ownership in any of the large operators makes sense for political reasons, and could be a net positive for existing shareholders,” Matthew Ossolinski told Reuters. His company, Ossolinski Holdings, invests in global gaming operators.

Ben Lee, founder of Macau gaming consultancy IGamiX, agrees.

“This [Adelson death] presents a window of opportunity for Chinese parties to come in and take a strategic stake in the company,” Lee commented.

Sands, the world’s largest casino company in terms of market capitalization, derives the majority of its revenue from its Macau operations.

Sands reported 2019 revenue of $13.74 billion. Macau operations were responsible for 64.3 percent of the money, or $8.83 billion.

Prior to his death, it was reported that Adelson was fielding offers for The Venetian and Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip. He allegedly wanted to focus on global markets.