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Sands buoyed by return of Chinese tourist market in Macau

| By Richard Mulligan
Las Vegas Sands (LVS) said the easing of Covid restrictions in China gives it confidence at the start of 2023 after reporting widening losses at the end of 2022.
Macau March

Robert G Goldstein, chairman and chief executive officer, said that the lessening of travel restrictions will help Las Vegas Sands to broaden its horizons after the pandemic.

“In Singapore, we were pleased to see the robust recovery continue at Marina Bay Sands during the quarter, with the property delivering record levels of performance in both mass gaming and retail revenue,” said Goldstein.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to introduce our new suite product to more customers as airlift capacity improves and growth in visitation from China and the wider region is enabled by the relaxing of travel restrictions.”

He added that development in Macau would further enhance Las Vegas Sands’ presence in the region, particularly as the operator received a concession to continue operating there in December 2022.

“In Macau, we were gratified to receive a new gaming concession during the quarter, which will enable us to continue our decades-long commitment to making investments that enhance the business and leisure tourism appeal of Macau and support its development as a world centre of business and leisure tourism,” he continued. “We remain deeply confident in the future of Macau and consider Macau an ideal market for additional capital investment.”

Financial results

The Asia-facing gaming group, which sold its Las Vegas operations for $6.25bn (£4.63bn/€5.56bn) last February, said travel restrictions and reduced visitation continued to impact its financial performance during the three months to 31 December 2022.

Flagship properties in Macau continued to be affected, but LVS benefitted from a record performance in Singapore and said it has confidence that customers will return in 2023 and beyond.

Net revenue for the three months to 31 December 2022 was $1.12bn, an increase of 10.8% from the prior year quarter based on continuing operations. This growth was in the main attributable to increased guest numbers compared to a year ago, with rooms revenue up almost 50% to $154.0m and a more than doubling of food and beverage takings to $103.0m. Casino accounted for $654.0m, which was up slightly on last year’s figure.

Macau operations dipped across the board with all its properties seeing a decrease in revenue compared to the prior year. In total, the five casinos and ferry operations saw takings fall by 32% to $444.0m. Adjusted property EBITDA was a loss of $51.0m.

However, revenue at its Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore grew by 85% to $682.0m, with adjusted property EBITDA up 54% to $273.0m.

Total operating expenses increased in the main due to greater resort operation costs, which grew by 18% to $908.0m.

Operating loss was $166m, compared to $138m in the prior year quarter. Net loss from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2022 was $269m, compared to $315m in the fourth quarter of 2021. Consolidated adjusted property EBITDA was $222m, compared to $251m in the prior year quarter.

For the full year to 31 December 2022, LVS posted revenue of $4.11bn, which was down 2.8% on 2021 thanks to a dip in casino and mall takings. Full-year 2022 operating loss was $792m, compared to $689m in 2021.

Goldstein added: “While travel restrictions and reduced visitation continued to impact our financial performance during the quarter, we remain confident in a robust recovery in travel and tourism spending across our markets and deeply enthusiastic about the opportunity to welcome more guests back to our properties throughout 2023 and in the years ahead.

“Looking ahead, our industry-leading investments in our team members, our communities and our market-leading Integrated Resort offerings position us exceedingly well to deliver growth as travel restrictions are further relaxed and the recovery comes to fruition. We are fortunate that our financial strength supports our ongoing investment and capital expenditure programmes in both Macau and Singapore, as well as our pursuit of growth opportunities in new markets.”

LVS completed the sale of its Las Vegas properties and operations, including the Venetian Resort, to VICI Properties and funds controlled by Apollo Global Management in February 2022.

The deal, agreed in March 2021, includes the sale of the entire Venetian Resort, comprising The Venetian, Palazzo and Venetian Expo properties.

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