Las Vegas Sands expecting social distancing to have greater long-term impact on Singapore casino ops than Macau - IAG

Thursday 23rd April 2020

Las Vegas Sands President and COO Rob Goldstein has warned that casino operations at the company's Singapore resort, Marina Bay Sands, are far more likely to be impacted by social distancing measures than those in Macau once business starts returning to normal in the coming months.

LVS reported this week a 51.1% decline in net revenues through 31 March 2020, including a 65.1% drop in Macau, as a result of casino closures and travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pressed on when and how the company's lucrative Asian operations might enjoy a recovery during its 1Q20 earnings call on Thursday (Macau time), Goldstein expressed confidence in guests returning by June but noted space limitations could provide greater challenges in Singapore. MBS boasts around 570 tables and 2,400 slot machines versus 1,680 tables and 5,900 slot machines for Sands China in Macau.

"In Singapore, social distancing did have an impact [pre-closure], because we're limited there in terms of size of the operation, and I think it will have an impact on Singapore in the future," Goldstein said.

"The question is how long those social distancing measures stay in place and we just don't know, but it will have an impact, negative in terms of Singapore.

"In Macau, I think we're in a much different position because of the scale and size of operations. We have so much square footage there and so many more slots and tables that I think we can do much better business in Macau than in Singapore vis-à-vis social distancing.

"I think in Macau, once we've opened the doors back up and the 14-day quarantine and the IVS is back in place, we'll be able to do quite well and the social distancing will have a minimal impact. Singapore could be adversely impacted by social distancing."

Goldstein also noted that the company's Asian operations appear to be in much better shape to enjoy a rapid recovery in the second half of the year than Las Vegas, with Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng having confirmed this week that the government was in talks with Beijing and neighboring Guangdong Province over the potential easing of border restrictions in the coming weeks.

"We do believe there will be some opening in May perhaps, or June, although it won't be a flick of the switch," he said.

"It will be a gradual process and the one thing we're grateful for is that the majority of our income is derived from Asia, which as you know has been through these situations in the past.

"They are more conversant with the problems and so we think the recovery back to gambling, back to visitation, will come rather quickly, albeit in gradual phases throughout the summer.

"We feel pretty confident we'll be back to a much better place this summer and then a much better place in the fall, and we have seen evidence of pent up demand like crazy from our customers who are asking when and we talk to them pretty regularly.

"So we feel pretty good about the return of Macau first, far beyond what we're going to see in the US."

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