Adelson eyes Mass., R.I.

Jan 21, 2003 4:19 AM

Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the board of Las Vegas Sands, Inc., and the visionary behind the development of The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas, isn¡¦t choosy about where he¡¦d like to build a New England casino.

Adelson, who grew up in Boston, Mass., said he would be interested in a casino project in either Massachusetts or Rhode Island, but not both.

"Massachusetts and Rhode Island are literally in a race" to see which state will be the first to approve casino gaming, he said, adding, "He who legalizes first drives the destination and the entire market¡Kand wins the game."

The gaming mogul currently holds one of three licenses to build a casino in Macau, an island off the coast of mainland China.

"I have been approached by people with sites in Rhode Island, but unless you legalize, there¡¦s no reason to get involved in site selections (and) not if Massachusetts legalizes first," he told a Rhode Island House Commission in a session last week. Adelson also warned that the state should be very careful to protect the gaming income it currently receives from the video lottery terminals in use at Lincoln Greyhound Track and Newport Jai-alai.

Massachusetts also has a study committee exploring the possibility of establishing a casino, possibly through a Native American gaming compact.

Also looking at Rhode Island as the site of a casino is Harrah¡¦s Entertainment Inc., which has an agreement with the Narragansett Indian Tribe for a casino in West Warwick.