Las Vegas Sands’ new chief executive Robert Goldstein has revealed that the operator is exploring “a few opportunities” to expand into online gambling.
In the operator’s earnings call discussing its fourth quarter and full year results, Goldstein said the operator was exploring a number of options for growth, including expansion in the US land-based market.
“And yes, we’ve looked at digital,” he added. “[It’s] interesting, […] digital is quite a space. And we are exploring opportunities, looking at what might be out there.”
There was “nothing concrete” in the pipeline, he added. Instead, the business was “simply looking, learning, observing”.
“[We] are learning and observing and talking to people. We are nowhere near a decision on that.”
Sands’ founder and long-serving chief executive Sheldon Adelson was seen as the highest-profile opponent of online gambling in the US.
However Goldstein argued that Adelson, who passed away earlier in January, in fact understood and believed in the potential of digital gaming.
“He just simply had this outsized ethical concern about people who couldn’t afford it or people that were too young to use it,” Goldstein explained. “And he wasn’t a believer in the technology could stop that.
“He never questioned the viability of it. He questioned the ability to police it properly, the same way he paid people hundreds of millions of dollars last year because he wanted to. It’s an ethical consideration to Sheldon.”
Goldstein, who was named Aldeson’s successor as Sands chairman and CEO this week, said they had discussed online gaming prior to his passing.
The earnings call also saw Sands executives tackle reports that the business was considering divesting some or all of its Las Vegas properties.
While they did not outright deny the business was evaluating the future of some properties, Patrick Dumont, who replaced Goldstein as president and chief operating officer, said Las Vegas was on the road to recovery.
“We have a very positive view in Las Vegas,” Dumont said. “I think long term, it’s irreplaceable [as] a tourist destination. A huge amount of investment going into Las Vegas.
“We think there’s a huge amount of potential pent-up demand just looking at other markets when there’s been a return. And really, the restriction in Las Vegas now are based on the capacity constraints set by the government. On weekends, we’re actually doing quite well.”
Golstein added that Sands continued to explore opportunities in New York, saying the operator saw the market as an “extraordinary opportunity”. It was also “kicking the tires” in Texas, which he described as potentially a “great” casino market.
“So these are opportunities that we – with our balance sheet and strength – we would jump [into] with both feet,” he said.