Sands Looks to Thailand

A subsidiary of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. says it’s interested in running an integrated resort in Thailand if gaming legislation is passed there with the support of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha (l). A Sands rep made the announcement at a press junket in Singapore.

First comes the legislation

Marina Bay Sands Pte. Ltd., a unit of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., has signaled its interest in operating a casino resort with a convention facility in Thailand.

According to the news site AsiaOne, Krist Boo, vice president for communications for the subsidiary, told reporters, “We want to invest in Thailand if we are given permission. It must be the same kind of integrated resort as in Singapore.

“Although Thailand has no casino act yet,” she continued, “if this is about to happen, it is very interesting.”

The World Casino Directory says the Sands Corp. previously approached Thai officials about investing there, but was turned down; presently, legal gambling in the country is limited to two Royal turf and sports clubs that allow betting on horse races, and the official lottery, which is run by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha. Chan-ocha, a retired military official and head of the National Council for Peace and Order, took office in a May 2014 coup.

A coalition of 12 National Reform Council members recently made headlines with their support for casino legislation, which also is endorsed by Police Chief General Somyot Poompanmoung. According to the Bangkok Post, the chief has been ordered by the government to cease making open statements of support for the casino plan.

The Sands Corp. also wants to open a casino in Vietnam, but only if the laws are changed to allow locals to gamble. Last year, in a fourth-quarter earnings call, Sands CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson said, “We remain focused on potential development opportunities in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. We believe our unique convention-based integrated resort development model could bring meaningful benefits to these countries in terms of business and leisure tourism, employment and economic growth.”

GGRAsia reported that the Sands looked at an old railway depot site in Bangkok for a possible development. “For Thailand, we would love to have an integrated resort at a place close to the Bangkok city center or financial center, near the international airport,” said Boo.