Any partner of Las Vegas Sands had advantages in Macau, court hears

AAEC is suing Las Vegas Sands for US$12bn for lost profits from 2004 to 2018.
AAEC is suing Las Vegas Sands for US$12bn for lost profits from 2004 to 2018.

Two members of the Macau Casino Gaming Commission at the time of Macau’s licence tender have given testimony in AAEC‘s lawsuit against LVS.

Macau.- The legal showdown between Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Asian American Entertainment Corporation (AAEC) has heard testimonies from two members of the Macau Casino Gaming Commission at the time of Macau’s licence tender.   

AEC and Las Vegas Sands had an initial agreement to bid for a Macau casino licence in 2002 and the commission was informed of this partnership, but LVS then severed its ties with AAEC and instead partnered with Galaxy.

The bids submitted by AAEC and Galaxy were similar, but the partnership with LVS gave Galaxy the winning card, the court heard.

According to Maria Nazaré Saias Portela and Eric Ho Hou Yin, Las Vegas Sands‘ experience and prestige gave any party partnering with the US giant, higher chances of winning a casino gaming licence.

Portela said: “Las Vegas Sands had abundant experiences in resort management in the Las Vegas Strip, which could help change the structure of Macau gaming.”

She added: “This did not mean [the Commission] completely prioritised [LVS] but any party involving [LVS] had advantages.”

Eric Ho Hou Yin said: “It is correct to say the Galaxy bid was selected mostly because of [LVS] as Galaxy had no experiences in gaming [at the time] while [LVS] had.”

AAEC is suing LVS for lost profits. On September 4 2019, it was allowed to increase its initial MOP3bn claim to MOP96.45bn (US$12bn) for lost profits from 2004 to 2018 while reserving its right to claim for lost profits up to 2022 in due course at the enforcement stage.

LVS requested a postponement of the case in September last year due to the travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The legal battle resumed on June 16 with debate about whether the US casino giant was still a partner of AAEC when it partnered with Hong Kong’s Galaxy Entertainment.

According to Las Vegas Sands, its partnership with AAEC ended before the Macau government announced the results of its licence tender.

Its legal team stated that a letter sent to Macau’s then chief executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah shows the casino had already ended its relationship with AAEC on January 15, 2002.

Today, the inquiry will hear from Manuel Joaquim das Neves, former director of Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), who was a member of the gaming commission in 2001-02.

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