The name Venetian Macao is displayed outside the Las Vegas Sands Las Vegas resort, owned by Venetian, on November 18, 2015 in Macau, China. REUTERS Bobby Yip :
The U.S. casino giant Las Vegas Sands is facing a $12 billion lawsuit from a former partner in a Macau court, in a case that would shine a light on how coveted casino licenses were awarded to the world's biggest gambling hub two decades ago.
The former partner Sands Macau, a led by Taiwanese businessman Marshall Hao, is seeking damages of approximately 70 per cent of corporate earnings from 2004 to 2022. Reuters estimates that the amount is around $12 billion.
The trial begins June 16, alleging that Sands violated its contract with Asian American for the license to play casino in China, the only legal gambling destination in Macau.
It comes as the casino titan faces losing gambling revenues due to Coronavirus travel and health restrictions, and a few months before the expiration of Sands' Casino license in Macau. The operator has to re-bid for a license in 2022 through a public tender.
Sands, who also runs a casino in US, has been fighting the claims of Asian American since 2007 when the case was launched in Singapore the first time.
The case was dismissed in Macau in 2012 after the U.S. case was filed for statute of limitations and procedural reasons.
It dates to 2001, when Sands and Asian American submitted a bid for a gaming concession jointly in 2001. During the process, Sands changed partner according to the suit, instead of jointing with Hong Kong-based Galaxy Entertainment.
The Sands-Galaxy combination went on to win a license over a decade ago in the former Portuguese colony.
Sands told Reuters that Marshall Hao had terminated its joint venture with Asian American and then submitted a new replica of its previous submission to the same partner Galaxy.
Asian American has won all major legal battles in the Macau lawsuit since we launched it in 2012 and we are confident.
Sands has sought to avoid the trial by bringing legal action in Macau and Nevada. The company declined to comment, but said in 2019 that it has consistently maintained that this case has no merit. We have confidence that it is likely that the judicial process at Macao will eventually reach the same conclusion.
In its latest annual report, Sands stated that the management was 'currently unable to determine the probability of the outcome of this matter or the range of reasonably possible losses, if any.
Sands, founded by late casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, has faced several lawsuits over its previous dealings with Macao, including over its securing of the lucrative casino licence.