Sands Possible Player for New York City Casino

profile image of bmr
David Peterson #23 of the New York Mets pitches in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP

Three southern or downstate New York casino licenses will be issued with at least one earmarked for the Big Apple. Many operators have shown interest in bidding for what will be a pricey piece of paper and Sands is one of them.

Leaving Las Vegas

The Sands Hotel & Casino is reminiscent of the halcyon days of Las Vegas when the Rat Pack ruled the world and mobsters ran Sin City. But that was a long time ago and in 1996 the venerated gambling palace was demolished and replaced with the far more chi-chi Venetian that we know today. 

But a new era was ushered in when the Sands sold the Venetian and the Sands Expo and Convention Center to Apollo Global Management and Vici Properties in a $6.25 billion deal just two months after Sands’ owner Sheldon Adelson’s death in January of 2021. That deal completed Sands’ divestment of their United States casino properties, intending to focus exclusively on their main gaming assets in Singapore, and the gambling mecca of the Far East, Macau. 

Sands CEO Robert Goldstein said at the time of the sale, “The Venetian changed the face of future casino development and cemented Sheldon Adelson’s legacy as one of the most influential people in the history of the gaming and hospitality industry.”

And that was supposed to be the end of Sand’s involvement in the U.S. gaming market but once news broke that a license would be up for bids in New York, it turned more than a few heads including the Sands’ executive team.

Empire State of Mind

In April, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a $220 billion state budget and within that package was the key to three casino licenses in southern New York. State Senator Joe Addabbo, a prominent voice in the legalization of sports betting in New York was asked his thoughts on the licenses and the prospects of another untapped revenue stream for the city. 

“It’s a process. It’s going to take a while to form the siting board and get the request for applications out and put together the community advisory councils. There’s a lot of steps here. Our job with the budget is over, but new work begins.

“And we’re going to talk to the Hochul Administration and I’m going to talk with (executive director) Rob Williams at the gaming commission because I want them to really expedite this process and condense the timeframe. And I know they can do it with a little incentive because I saw it with online sports betting — so we can try to recognize the revenue, educational funds, jobs, and addiction money sooner than later. That’s the idea.”

And while the major players of the gaming world are looking towards the New York City license, possibly Times Square, as the crown jewel, the price tag is expected to be in the neighborhood of $500 million to $1 billion just for the license fee. And once the casino is operating there will be a hefty tax on all profits which has dampened some of the operators’ enthusiasm.

Although Sands just made its exit from the U.S. market, the possibility of operating in New York City could bring them back to the States and Goldstein was asked about it on a Q2 earnings call earlier this week.

“No, I think we remain a believer in that market, and the process is taking longer than I thought it would,” Goldstein said.

“But hopefully, it will come to — hopefully, this year or early next, we’ll know what’s happening there. Now, still, the density of population and the ethnicity and the access in New York makes it very appealing and lack of capacity still remains a premier market in my mind, if we can get there.”

“A lot of competition, we’re one of many in the hunt there. So, nothing new to report. We have a plan in place. We’re executing to it. Let’s wait for the RFP to unfold. So, we have nothing new in New York.”

Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor this story and report back to our readers as events unfold.