A court in the United States is again looking into a claim for damages by a Hong Kong businessman arguing he helped Las Vegas Sands Corp get a Macau gaming licence.
Las Vegas Sands says Richard Suen played no role in the company ensuring a casino licence in Macau and therefore deserves no compensation.
In a six-week trial that ended in mid-May 2013, a Clark County District Court jury in Nevada awarded Mr Suen US$70 million for the work he said he did more than a decade ago to help Las Vegas Sands secure its gaming licence in Macau. Las Vegas Sands said after the judgment that it planned to appeal against the trial verdict.
With court fees and interest accruing since the case was filed in 2004, the award now stands at more than US$115 million, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
That was the second time that a Nevada jury had awarded Mr Suen damages, but the first award was overturned on a previous appeal.
The case is now before the Nevada Supreme Court. A hearing took place on Tuesday, according to media reports. The case has meanwhile been submitted for decision, according to the official website of the Supreme Court of Nevada.
During Tuesday’s oral argument stage, Las Vegas Sands representatives argued – among other reasons to dismiss the claim – that the case should be overturned by the simple fact that the firm was never granted an official gaming concession by the Macau government in the first place. Instead, it operates on a sub-concession granted to it by gaming operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Only three official gaming concessions were offered in Macau during the 2002 casino liberalisation process. Concessions were granted to Sociedade de Jogos de Macau SA, now a subsidiary of SJM Holdings Ltd; Wynn Resorts (Macao) SA, a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts Ltd; and Galaxy Casino SA.
Galaxy Casino was initially made up of a joint venture between what is today Galaxy Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands’ subsidiary Sands China Ltd. The partnership quickly fell apart, reportedly over disagreement on the gaming assets management.
In December 2002, the Macau government made a change to Galaxy Casino’s concession contract, which allowed it to have a sub-concession relationship with Venetian Macao SA, a subsidiary of Sands China. In practical terms, there are very few differences between a concession and sub-concession regarding the development and operation of casinos in Macau.
Following the issuance of the first sub-concession, SJM Holdings and Wynn Resorts were also subsequently authorised to have a sub-concession each, which they sold respectively to MGM Grand Paradise SA, a subsidiary of MGM China Holdings Ltd, now controlled by MGM Resorts International; and Melco PBL Jogos (Macau) SA, a subsidiary of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.
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