HONG KONG, 9 June - US casino giant Las Vegas Sands is facing a $12 billion lawsuit from a former partner in a Macau court in a case set to shine a light over how the prized casino licenses were granted in the world's biggest gambling hub two decades ago.
Sands, former partner of the Asian American Entertainment Corporation, headed by Taiwanese businessman Marshall Hao, is seeking damages of around 70% of the Macau profits from 2004 to 2022. Reuters calculates the figure at approximately $12 billion.
The trial, starting on June 16, alleges that Sands violated its contract with Asian American for a casino license in China, the only legitimate gambling destination in Macau.
It comes as Sands faces plummeting gambling revenues due to Coronavirus travel and health restrictions, and is a few months ahead of the expiration of Sands’ casino license in Macau. The operator will re-bid to get a license in the 2022 from a public tender.
Sands, which also runs a casino in the United States, has been fighting the claims from Asian American since 2007 when the case was first opened in Singapore.
The case was dismissed in Macau in 2012 after the U.S. case for statute of limitations and procedural reasons was lodged.
It dates to 2001, when Sands and Asian American submitted a co- bid for a gaming concession each year. According to the lawsuit, Sands also split partners during the process and instead teamed up with the Hong Kong company Galaxy Entertainment.
The Sands-Galaxy combination went on to win a license in the former Portuguese colony over a decade ago.
Sands told Reuters that Marshall Hao ended his joint venture with Asian American and then submitted a new replica of its previous submission with the original partner Galaxy.
Asian American has won all major litigations in the Macau lawsuit since we filed it in 2012, and we are confident.
Sands sought to avoid the trial by filing legal action in Nevada and Macau. The company declined to comment, but said in 2019 that it has repeatedly maintained that this case has no merit. We have confidence that the Macao administrative process will ultimately reach the same conclusion.
Sands stated in its latest annual report that its management was 'currently unable to determine the probability of the outcome of this matter or the range of reasonably expected loss if any.
Sands, founded by the lucrative casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, faced several lawsuits over its earlier dealings in Macau, including over its securing of the late casino license. What is the best way to define yourself?