No disrespect to Steve Wynn, but the human starter gun for any serious casino race is now Sheldon Adelson. Except for China, he’s not been in any casino-expansion movement for the long haul since he lost Mirage Resorts. And with Las Vegas Sands now expressing an interest in the Toronto area, competitors MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment already look like also-rans with Adelson in the picture. (Caesars’ fire-aim-ready effort doesn’t even have the crucial joint-venture partner in place yet.) Were I pondering loan requests from those three companies, Sands would be a no-brainer first choice. Even its lesser revenue streams (like Sands Bethelehem) are still pretty impressive.
“Tex” Adelson has given up on the Lone Star State, it appears, where any form of casino gambling is certain to go to horse tracks first. (Sheldon doesn’t speak “racino”). Florida is out, too … although Sands has vacillated endlessly on the latter since Genting stole its thunder. Among his other pipe dreams, building a casino in Spain in order to tap the Moscow and St. Petersburg markets is typical Adelson: half brilliant and half insane. Brilliant, because a wintertime getaway to a Vegas-like resort must sound pretty appealing to a shivering Muscovite. Insane, if Adelson sticks to his $35 billion price target. If “we need to justify a 20 percent return on the money” Sands invests, good luck generating $7 billion in annual cash flow from Madrid or Barcelona. (And if it’s the latter, should one adopt a Castilian lisp and refer to him as “Adel-thon“?)
Therein lies the problem with Adelson’s stateside development schemes: There’s no way to hit 20% ROI — or even 15% — if you’re blowing billions a pop on one-size-fits-all [sic], Vegas-sized developments. (Remember, Adelson initially proposed five, $2 billion casinos for Florida.) Give Gary Loveman this much: He usually builds to the size of the market rather than indiscriminately dropping big-ass megaresorts across the country.
Adelson and COO Michael Leven seem to be the only people who think Sands Cotai Central is performing up to expectations. But give them credit for evolving past a colonialist mentality toward Macao — or at least realizing that even if they succeeded in their appeal for the return of Sites 7 & 8, their win would be mega-Pyrrhic. There’s no victory in causing the Chinese government to lose face, they said, and they’d rather improve the Sino-Sands relationship (or at least not cause any further deterioration). “There doesn’t seem to be any logical reason or any rationale to push and alienate the government by embarrassing them by winning the appeal,” explained Adelson, in what I have to say is a truly honorable instance of putting his ego aside for the larger good of his shareholders. Bravo, comrade.
Make no mistake. The term-limits policy instituted by Revel upon its employees is vile and reprehensible. No job should be a sinecure but this is, at best, a thinly veiled institutionalization of sex- and age-discrimination policies that the casino industry already practices (especially against women) on the sly. In response, Unite-Here is taking the issue to the ballot box, pushing two Atlantic City ordinances that would thwart Revel’s term limits and also mandate a certain level of benefits for all casino workers. The union’s goals are enlightened but I am at present undecided whether this is a matter for the negotiating table rather than the ballot box. However, if union prez Robert McDevitt hadn’t gone out of his way to block, sandbag and otherwise alienate Revel, we’d probably not be having this discussion. To a large extent, McDevitt made this bed and one is sorely tempted to tell him to lie in it, fucker, were it not for all the other livelihoods that are stake.
Horse sense. Today’s sudden retirement by I’ll Have Another, victim of a sports injury, underscores the fact that the horseracing industry is living in fantasyland and on its way to economic extinction. Face it, horse players, the Belmont Park of the future will be a casino with galloping horses in lieu of dancing showgirls.