Tough trading conditions in the casino sector are the primary cause of Las Vegas Sands’ sensational decision to put The Venetian up for sale.
The iconic venue has been a mainstay of the Las Vegas strip since opening its doors for the first time, but issues with turning a positive return amid the global health crisis have left the owners with no choice but to put the property on the market – they posted a $300 million loss in the final quarter of 2020.
It will cost you a combined $6.25 billion to get your hands on The Venetian, the Palazzo and the Sands Expo and Convention Center, which have also been put up for sale.
The decision sees Las Vegas Sands leave the strip in Sin City for good, and they will instead consolidate their business in Asia where they remain a prominent figure in the casino sector.
The firm was rocked by the death of founder Sheldon Adelson in January, and you suspect the move to get out of Vegas was made with his blessing months ago – he, after all, was the driving force behind their diversification into Singapore and Macau.
Rumours suggest that a buyer has already been found. The suggestion is that VICI Properties will buy the assets of The Venetian and the Expo, while Apollo Global Management have been linked with the purchase of the day-to-day running of the casino influenced by the romantic Italian city. The assumption is that they will retain the casino’s existing décor and games.
A senior partner at Apollo, Alex van Hoek, said that his firm’s ‘conviction in a strong recovery’ was the main factor in their decision to buy in.
“This investment also underscores our conviction in a strong recovery for Las Vegas as vaccines usher in a reopening of leisure and travel in the United States and across the world,” he confirmed.
Movie Stars and Motorised Gondoliers
Adelson had the bold idea that he wanted to create the largest casino resort in Las Vegas – no small feat, and in 1996 work began on creating The Venetian.
Inspired by famous landmarks in Venice, The Venetian has its own network of canals – yes, really – that flow around the huge property, which features countless games rooms and a huge range of 4,000 rooms and 3,000 suites; this is the second largest hotel complex in the world.
The Venetian opened its doors for the first time in May 1999, with white doves and Sophia Loren riding a motorised gondolier among the highlights of the official opening.
The casino has not been without its controversies, and in 2004 the parent company was forced to pay $1 million in fines after a series of breaches were uncovered, including one prize giveaway when a Mercedes Benz was ‘won’ by one of the venue’s regular high rolling customers who had lost a considerable sum on the tables. The executives behind the ruse were subsequently fired.
And then, in 2013, a lawsuit accused them of a catalogue of alleged money laundering activities on the site, and they agreed to settle up for an eye-watering $47.4 million.
But the buyers of The Venetian will get their hands on a truly astonishing building, which with its 120,000 sq ft of gaming space, on site sportsbook and the new MSG Sphere entertainment venue has to be considered a canny purchase.