Las Vegas Sands Announces Plans to Invest in Digital Gaming Technologies

  • LVS will create a new team focused on digital gaming investment to be headed by Davis Catlin
  • CEO Robert Goldstein said the move will “best position the company for future growth”
  • Sands founder Adelson died in January, ending the company’s opposition to digital gaming
  • The operator has struggled since the pandemic began, with Q1 2021 revenue down 16% y-o-y
Las Vegas Sands logo on a phone
As part of a new strategy, Las Vegas Sands has announced plans to create a team which will focus on investment in digital gaming technologies. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Stepping into the digital space

US-based casino giant Las Vegas Sands (LVS) is ready to put its weight behind digital gaming. The operator has announced that it will become a strategic investor in digital gaming technologies, with a specific focus on the “business-to-business space.”

LVS confirmed the new strategy in a press release on Monday. The plans include the creation of a team led by investment firm veteran Davis Catlin. Catlin is joining the company after spending 14 years working for Sands Capital Management in Virginia. The team will focus specifically on digital gaming investment.

an outstanding opportunity for us to invest in the technologies being developed.”

Commenting on the plans, LVS chairman and CEO Robert Goldstein affirmed that the digital investment will “best position the company for future growth.” He said: “Digital gaming and other related offerings are still very much in the early stages of development, and we believe there is an outstanding opportunity for us to invest in the technologies being developed.”

A new look for Las Vegas Sands

When Las Vegas Sands founder Sheldon Adelson passed away in January this year, it opened the door to a change in strategy for the company. Casino industry magnate Adelson had consistently opposed online gambling for years, claiming that he was protecting children and problem gamblers. In 2014, he even created a coalition to push federal lawmakers to criminalize online gambling.

In January, however, the newly appointed LVS CEO Robert Goldstein outlined a path for the company centered around new verticals and markets. Speaking during his first quarterly call, the executive said LVS will aim to expand into new states in the US, such as Texas and New York, while also reaching into alternative verticals including sports betting and online gaming.

Since then, LVS has also agreed to sell its land-based Las Vegas properties for $6.25bn. The company signed multibillion-dollar deals with VICI Properties and Apollo Global Management for the sale of its Sands Expo and Convention Center and the Venetian Resort. In part, LVS said the aim of the sale is to allow greater investment in the Asian market, where it owns properties in Singapore and Macau.

Speaking before his passing, Adelson affirmed that Asia provided the best growth opportunities for LVS. He said that Macau had the potential to be “one of the greatest business and leisure tourism destinations in the world.” In January, Goldstein announced his intention to follow Adelson’s plan to invest a further $5bn to $10bn in the Macau market.

Revenue continues to dwindle

LVS’s shift in strategy comes with the company experiencing declining revenue figures year on year. In part as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of its properties, the operator saw a loss of $1.69bn for the full year 2020. Revenue fell 280% from 2019’s figure to a total of $3.61bn.

revenue totaled $1.2bn for the first quarter of this year

This downward trend has continued into 2021. In the operator’s last financial report, revenue totaled $1.2bn for the first quarter of this year. That’s a drop of almost 16% from the corresponding period in 2020. Operating loss amounted to $96m compared to operating income of $6m last year.

Meanwhile, US-based operators with a focus on digital gambling have seen revenue skyrocket over the same period. For example, FanDuel generated revenue of $896m in 2020, a rise of 81% from 2019 levels. Similarly, DraftKings ended 2020 with revenue up 49% year-on-year and saw a staggering rise of 253% in Q1 2021 revenue.