The secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen sent a letter to one of Las Vegas Sands’ bankers in 2006 to assure the company that it could operate in Macau autonomously from its Chinese partner, Galaxy Casino S.A., even in the event of termination and extinction of Galaxy Casino’s concession contract.
Venetian Macau S.A., a unit of Las Vegas Sands Corp, is technically a sub-concessionaire of Galaxy Casino S.A. since 2002.
Our sister publication Business Daily has seen a copy of the letter, sent to Bank of Nova Scotia – at the time a lead arranger of project debt for Las Vegas Sands – and signed by Mr Tam.
That assurance was important, because some of the gaming operator’s banking partners – many of them Western companies – were concerned that the company’s Macau rights, technically and officially a sub-concession, could be at risk if the supposedly senior partner Galaxy Casino SA, a local unit of Galaxy Entertainment Group, lost its primary licence.
The letter states that “Venetian Macau S.A. shall be able to exploit games of chance and other games in casino [sic] in Macau autonomously from Galaxy Casino S.A., even in the event of termination and extinction of Galaxy Casino S.A.’s concession contract…”
Business Daily has also learned that some members of the government wanted the facts in Mr Tam’s 2006 assurance letter to be recorded in Macau’s Official Gazette as a matter of public policy.
But it was decided not to do so, reportedly for technical, legal, reasons.
During the second trial of Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen’s lawsuit, which ended early this week, Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson explained to the jury that the impetus for involvement in Macau was driven by the firm’s own management.
But sources have suggested to Business Daily that all the Las Vegas operators interested in Macau were concerned that operating here could have put their Nevada licences at risk.
Sources also said Macau officials liked the quality of The Venetian Las Vegas compared to some of the other casinos around it on the Las Vegas Strip.
They also liked the company’s focus on the conventions business.
In other news developments, Las Vegas Sands will appeal the verdict by a Nevada state court that has awarded Mr Suen US$70 million (MOP560 million) payable by Las Vegas Sands.
Mr Suen claimed that he helped the operator to get a licence to operate casinos in Macau.
Las Vegas Sands is the parent company of Macau-based gaming operator Sands China Ltd.