Thursday, April 26, 2012 | 5:47 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
Sheldon Adelson says that wherever he finds his fortunes around the globe, he's not forgetting Las Vegas.
Speaking Thursday at UNLV, the billionaire Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO said the money he makes overseas would find its way back to his holdings here.
"Any company that is successful in other parts of the world benefits its core assets," Adelson said. "Las Vegas is a core asset. I'm never going to sell it. Because if I sell it, I'm giving away the keys to my kingdom."
On a day when he addressed students in UNLV's hospitality and gaming program and later accepted an award from the Harrah Hotel College, Adelson said he was confident that Las Vegas Sands' $35 billion mini-Las Vegas Strip project in Spain would pay off. He said he expected the project to be completed in four years, and he predicted the European economy would be recovering at that time.
Accepting the Hospitality Industry Leader of the Year award from UNLV, Adelson said there was plenty of room for the Las Vegas model around the world.
"There is room for five to 10 Las Vegases," Adelson told the crowd at a dinner held in the ballrooms of his Venetian. "There is room for that many of these mega resorts and it still would not saturate the market."
Earlier, while speaking to students, Adelson emphasized the importance of taking risks. For example, Adelson said gaming industry experts told him he was unwise to take bets of $1 million per hand on baccarat in Singapore. He said it paid off as a marketing ploy to keep high rollers playing longer.
"Eventually the law of averages is going to play in my favor," Adelson said. "The cards, they don't know the size of the bet. They're going to fall the same way."
Looking farther back, he smiled as he remembered those who thought he was being overly risky in trying to lure conventions to Las Vegas. The city now depends on conventions to fill its hotel rooms.
He said too often entrepreneurs aren't willing to take the gamble to create an integrated resort — one with shopping, convention facilities, fine dining, gaming and other attractions. Frequently, he said, they are satisfied with just building a hotel.
But providing more than a room offers the answer to the survival of such places as Las Vegas, he said. It's the model that Las Vegas Sands has used to make record company revenues of $2.76 billion and net income of $490 million in the first quarter of this year.
"When you ask people why do you travel, they say to do sight-seeing and to do shopping," Adelson said following his talk with the students. "If you're not in a city or district or country where you can see ancient sights, you have to be in a place where you can do shopping and entertainment."
Adelson credited the integrated approach for allowing his company to boost its earnings while others in the industry are still recovering. Sands makes more money than Marriott, Intercontinental and Holiday Inn, HIlton and Starwood combined.
"We've only got eight or nine properties and they've got 12,000, why do we make more money?" Adelson said.
It's because of the diversification.
Two of the students in the audience, Xirui Yan and Hiele Wong, came to Las Vegas from China to study hotel management. Macau is where Adelson now makes most of his money.
But when they wanted to learn how the burgeoning industry in their country worked, they came to UNLV.
"They have a well-developed system here, and they bring it to Macau and make money off of it," said Yan, 22.