Casino developer Sheldon Adelson (pictured), who has always steered clear of the Atlantic City, New Jersey market, on Wednesday said he is interested in bidding for a site in Meadowlands just south of New York City if New Jersey decides to invite tenders.
“Could it provide for at least 5 or 6 years a return on capital? Yes – and a good one. So we would be interested in that,” said Mr Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
He was speaking at a keynote question and answer session on the second day of Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2014, held in his property, the Venetian Las Vegas.
Such a project however remains speculative. Currently New Jersey – which has seen a decline in gaming revenues and also casino closures in Atlantic City as neighbouring states have opened up new casino venues – is only at the consideration stage of allowing up to four casino gaming licences in the north of the Garden State. That’s according to New Jersey’s Star-Ledger newspaper in a report on August 19.
The newspaper added that the Meadowlands Sport Complex was a preferred venue among local businesses, and could include a casino, a racino – a racetrack with additional slot machine gaming – and a convention centre.
Mr Adelson said: “…it would be a very attractive place to do [build]. But it all depends on what the government of New Jersey wants.”
Meadowlands is 12 miles [19 kilometres] from Manhattan, compared to Atlantic City’s 131 miles from downtown New York. But Mr Adelson said simple distance was not a reliable predictor of travel time.
He also indicated the project could be vulnerable to New York countering with more gaming licences of its own. The state of New York is already contemplating issuing up to four new licences upstate, north of the metro area.
A Malaysian investment bank this week suggested Genting Malaysia Bhd was a frontrunner for at least one of the upstate New York licences.
If New Jersey were to offer a Meadowlands licence and it were won by Mr Adelson’s company, it could put him in close competition – for a third time – with his Las Vegas and Macau market rival Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts Ltd.
Mr Wynn is already on course to build a new casino resort on the outskirts of Mr Adelson’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.
Mr Adelson on Wednesday said he didn’t bid for a Massachusetts licence because he “didn’t think he could scale down” his business model – which he said depended on hotel and convention facilities combined – on the size of land plot that was on offer. He added Mr Wynn was better at selling the “mystique” of a casino property.
Mr Adelson – who in the past has traded spicy comments with his rival – made frequent mention of “my friend Steve” during the keynote session. Mr Wynn, who had given his own keynote address the day before, even did Mr Adelson the courtesy of turning up to listen on Wednesday.
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”Assuming that our [Tigre de Cristal] phase two project and the other future operators’ development plans remain on track, we may see the benefits of a ‘cluster’ effect [in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone] as early as 2021”
Summit Ascent, lead developer of Tigre de Cristal