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September 17, 2014

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Jury begins deliberation in Las Vegas Sands case

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Jeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal / AP

Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson looks towards the direction of Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen while testifying Monday, April 8 , 2013 in Clark County Regional Justice Center. This is the third day that the billionaire casino mogul has been on the witness stand, Suen claims Las Vegas Sands Las Vegas Sands owes him $328 million for his help in winning a gambling license in Macau.

Jurors began deliberations in a nine-year-old breach of contract case against casino giant Las Vegas Sands Friday after hearing conflicting stories from lawyers about the role a Hong Kong businessman played in helping Sands enter the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

Sands attorney Richard Sauber said in his closing argument that the company knew about opportunities in Macau in the early 2000s and did not need the help of plaintiff Richard Suen.

Attorneys for Suen have countered that it was impossible to know how things would have turned out if casino mogul Sheldon Adelson had not consulted with their client, who is suing for $328 million.

Sands now earns about 60 percent of its revenue in Macau — a former Portuguese colony an hour west of Hong Kong by ferry — that has emerged as the world's most lucrative gambling market.

The jury does not know it's the second time the case has played out in Clark County court.

Suen was awarded $58.6 million in 2008, but the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the verdict. Among other things, the court said the district judge shouldn't have allowed hearsay statements during the trial.

Suen filed the lawsuit in 2004 after failing to reach a compensation agreement with Sands.

Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson testified in early April at the beginning of the trial.

The multibillionaire acknowledged that Sands' chief operating officer agreed in 2001 to pay Suen a "success fee" of $5 million, plus 2 percent of the company's profits from its Macau casinos. But he said Suen would have had to hand-deliver a gambling license to earn that fee.

Sands argued that while Suen arranged a few meetings and gave the company some advice, his efforts were ultimately useless and unnecessary.

On Thursday, Suen's lawyer John O'Malley drew an analogy to a person who hires a real estate agent to sell his home, saying even if the homeowner finds a buyer quickly and easily, the agent is still entitled to collect his commission, or at least a portion of it.

In his rebuttal Friday, Sauber said Suen was trying to take credit for the work of others.

"It's a story filled with false statements, imaginary meanings, claims to ownerships of other people's ideas," he said. "It's a story of speculation."

The current trial has lasted for weeks, with the judge, jury and attorneys developing a rapport.

Two hours into his closing statement, Sauber took off his jacket and paused to assure the jury, "This is as far as I'm going to get."

"Good, because I don't have any music," quipped Judge Rob Bare.

Bare said the trial was the longest he had presided over in lengthy long career.

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