Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) is already by far the leader in Macau gaming by net revenue, profit, and potential growth. With more properties on Macau's Cotai Strip than any other company, as well as higher net revenue and EBITDA at its Macau properties than competitors Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) and Melco Crown (NASDAQ:MLCO), Las Vegas Sands is the clear winner there already.
Unfortunately for all casino companies in Macau, year-over-year revenues there are declining as the VIP segment in the Chinese special administrative region gets hammered by harsher government restrictions on high-net-worth players. However, a rising mass market segment points to a bright future in Macau.
For Las Vegas Sands, which is attempting to open The Parisian resort on Macau's Cotai strip by late 2015, this could mean massive profits in Macau again in the future. Although the Parisian is already under construction, Las Vegas Sands was awaiting the final construction approvals from government officials in Macau. Those arrived recently as the company announced on Dec. 21 that it has the necessary government approvals to complete its $2.7 billion Paris-themed resort in Macau.
Las Vegas Sands opened Macao's first integrated resort -- The Venetian Macao -- in 2007 and the Parisian Macao will bring the company's total investment in Macau to more than $10 billion spent on developments including retail malls, convention and exhibition space, and hotel rooms.
Las Vegas Sands
Each of the major companies in Macau are scheduled to open a new resort on Macau's Cotai Strip in the next 12-24 months: Melco Crown's Studio City is due in summer 2015, followed by Wynn Palace Cotai and the MGM Cotai in 2016, pending necessary approvals to complete construction, such as The Parisian was recently awarded.
Sands' The Parisian is slated to open near the end of 2015 and it's going to be big, with more than 3,000 hotel rooms and suites, more than 490,000 square feet of retail space, many food and beverage offerings, and new meeting and convention facilities. Sands already dominates the Cotai Strip with the Four Seasons and The Venetian on one side and the Sands Cotai across the street. The Parisian, being built next to the Four Seasons, features a replica of the Eiffel Tower at 50% scale, making it nearly 500 feet tall (150 meters). It's fair to say the property is sure to draw in guests.
This massive resort also appears to be the best bet on a growing mass market in Macau. Including more than 3,000 rooms, compared to 2,000 at Studio City, 2,000 at Wynn Palace, and 1,600 at MGM Cotai, The Parisian resort will help to keep Sands the leader in the number of hotel rooms it can provide a growing number of visitors to this area. Additionally, the 450 gambling tables, 2,500 slots, and retail mall will help to assure those guests stay on property, spending money.
Why this just became an even better bet
The Macau government, following directives from the Chinese government in Beijing that the region should diversify to other nongaming revenue, has been dragging its feet in awarding official approvals to these new resorts, even though they are already under way.
The official approval to complete construction of The Parisian announced Dec. 21 is one worry off investors' minds. Melco Crown also has the official OK, but that's not the case for Wynn (amid renewed probes by the Macau government on property legality issues) or MGM.
The big news item gaming investors are waiting to hear is that the Macau government officially approves gaming licenses for these new resorts. Without gaming licenses, these resorts will be very nice hotels, but will not be the more profitable casinos that they are planned to be. This is certainly a risk that these companies face, but while we are still waiting to hear if each of these companies will get a gaming license for their new resorts, this nod of approval from the Macau government for The Parisian to complete construction is an encouraging sign and reason to expect more good news from the Macau government soon.