Billionaire Adelson seeks land to expand Marina Bay Sands

SINGAPORE — Las Vegas Sands has asked the Singapore authorities for more land to increase rooms at its Marina Bay Sands resort by about 60 per cent after facing almost full occupancy, billionaire Chairman Sheldon Adelson said yesterday.

The world’s biggest casino operator plans to add 1,500 rooms to the 2,563-room resort, Mr Adelson said at a briefing here. It will also add meeting rooms, ballrooms and exhibition spaces to the US$6 billion (S$7.65 billion) project and largest hotel in Singapore when the Government releases more land, he said.

“We need more rooms,” Mr Adelson said. “We are running at a 100 per cent occupancy; on a bad day, it’s 98 per cent. No other hotel in the world runs like this, except some in Vegas.”

Mr Adelson said he had met government officials on Wednesday and repeated his request for more land. Marina Bay Sands has about 1.2 million sq ft of meeting and convention space and two theatres for Broadway shows, concerts and gala events, said a company filing.

The room revenue at the resort rose 11 per cent to US$360.3 million last year, the filing showed.

Last year’s occupancy rate was 98.6 per cent, with an average daily room rate of US$396.

Hotels in the city filled 86.3 per cent of their rooms last year, data from the Singapore Tourism Board showed.

Still, Sands posted fourth-quarter earnings on Jan 30 that trailed analysts’ estimates, as revenue in Singapore fell 8 per cent to US$659.8 million. Gains in mass gaming and non-gaming revenue were countered by “softer VIP play”, the firm said.

Sands plans to focus on Asia after the operator abandoned a plan in December to build a US$30 billion mega-resort in Spain.

“We want to develop a network of resorts around the Pacific Rim,” Mr Adelson said.

Sands is ready to invest as much as US$10 billion in Japan to build a gambling, hotels, entertainment and shopping complex that would lure tourists to Asia’s biggest economy after China, Mr Adelson said, repeating comments made last month.

Japan should allow Sands to build an integrated resort by 2020, before the Tokyo Olympic Games, said Mr George Tanasijevich, Chief Executive Officer of Marina Bay Sands. The Tokyo facility should have at least 200 rooms for meetings, conventions and exhibitions.

The company invested in Macau a decade ago and has since become the largest foreign casino operator in the city, which is about an hour by ferry from Hong Kong.

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