Las Vegas Sands president says city of Las Vegas will see ‘more pain’

Las Vegas Sands president Robert Goldstein told CNBC on Thursday that the city of Las Vegas would continue to struggle financially as the coronovirus epidemic persists.

“This is obviously a difficult time for us … and from my perspective, we are here for some more pain,” Goldstein said in an interview with CNBC’s Contessa Brewer on “The Exchange”.

Goldstein’s remarks come two days after the announcement that CES, America’s largest technology show, will be an online-only event in January due to Coronavirus – yet another setback to the Las Vegas economy where the CES takes place . Last year, the multiday event had more than 171,000 attendees from around the world.

“Las Vegas … any way you measure it is a large-scale city: 150,000 sleeping rooms, large conferences, large banquets. Large is the word for Las Vegas, so absolutely an easy place to live in this environment. No, “said Goldstein, who called CES a virtual” hurting short-term “for the city.

Casino resorts in Las Vegas closed in mid-March due to coronaviruses and began reopening on June 4.

Las Vegas is a destination city that is dependent on tourism, especially from visitors who fly to Las Vegas. In order to recover meaningfully, Goldstein said, a vaccine is needed to stop Kovid-19 or “something that changes the consumer perception of this virus”. Goldstein, who is also the chief operating officer, “And I’m not seeing this happening in the short term.”

Las Vegas Sands, which generates about 90% of its EBITDA from Macao and Singapore, received relatively positive news this week as the Chinese government would begin issuing comprehensive visas for Macau. The company produces more than 60% of its revenue from Chinese territory and casino hubs.

“This is a step in the right direction, but it is not a step,” Goldstein said, because a change in the visa-issuing policy does not yet cover tourists. “We are tourist-driven.”

However, Goldstein said that he believes it may not be too far to resume a personal travel plan or an important program known as IVS. “I think it will happen during summer or fall. It will be slow. It won’t be big steps. It will be a series of small steps leading to a full-on IVS, which will be open to both Guangdong and China. . At some point, “he said. “What that point is, no one really knows.”

But he added: “We know that the Asian consumer, the Chinese consumer, interacts a lot with the environment of the virus. They are masks and gloves and used for social distance and temporary checks. They don’t react like Americans do. Are. ” Had a hard time with this. We also know that they are not traveling further than China, so I think Macao will become a very favorable destination when they open the doors. ”

Shares of Las Vegas Sands rose more than 3% on Thursday, better than the broader S&P 500, which sold slightly negatively. The company, founded by CEO Sheldon Adelson, reported a 97% decline in net revenue last week for the quarter ended June 30. It reported a net loss of $ 985 million in the quarter.

Despite the financial challenges the epidemic has caused for the company, it recently said it was expanding its pledge to maintain employee benefits and pay at least through Oct. 31. In a letter to employees obtained by CNBC’s brewer, Adelson said Las Vegas Sands was not the only casino operator to remove or lay off workers due to the Kovid-19 crisis.

Goldstein said that Adelson feels that “supporting people in these difficult times is the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, when this city actually has some incredible challenges.” “But even in terms of trade, we believe that this epidemic will finally go away and we will be the head of the class in terms of desirability for customers and for employees as well.”

Contessa Brewer of CNBC contributed to this report.


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