Sands drops out of Kansas casino race

Aug 12, 2008 6:57 PM

Gt Staff| | Las Vegas Sands last week announced it would no longer pursue a management contract for one of four casinos planned in Kansas.

LVS officials cited current and future projects, as well as changes in neighboring Missouri’s gaming market, as reasons for the withdrawal.

"As we pursue our development plans and evaluate potential opportunities around the globe, we constantly review those plans to determine which ones are the most beneficial for the company, its shareholders and our employees, as well as the communities in which we intend to operate," said William Weidner, president of Las Vegas Sands, which owns The Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas. "It now appears that proposed statutory changes in Missouri will allow gaming operators there to significantly increase the amounts being wagered at their competing facilities. This change, together with the increased borrowing costs in today’s financial marketplace, significantly decreases the expected returns from our proposed development in Kansas and limits our ability to generate appropriate risk-adjusted returns from our proposed investment vis-à-vis our expected returns on our other global investment opportunities."

The changes in Missouri gaming include a referendum to eliminate the state’s $500 casino loss limit, which will appear on the November ballot.

Currently, gamblers are only allowed to purchase $500 worth of poker machine credits or table game chips every two hours.

To balance the removal of the loss limit, the industry and government have agreed to a 1 percent tax increase on casino revenues, as well as a limit of 13 casinos statewide (there are currently 12 in Missouri).

Proponents of the measure say the "outdated" loss limit practice could cost the gaming industry $100 million a year to new business expected from Kansas casinos, which have no loss limits.