Las Vegas Sands Sheldon Adelson continues to lobby for Brazil resort
With Brazil being the world’s fifth largest country, boasting a population of 201 million people, Republican party mega donor and world’s 21st richest man Adelson has long had his eye on the country.
He will, however, face an up-hill fight in his plans to build a $8 billion integrated casino resort in the vast country. Brazil outlawed all forms of gambling back in 1941 but Adelson and his minions have been actively lobbying Brazilian President Michel Temer for the last two years to change the law.
Adelson met with President Temer last May to discuss the integrated resort project. Adelson also visited Brazil’s second largest city, San Paulo, last week to continue his lobbying efforts.
Adelson is arguing that changing the law to allow for legalized gambling would create a substantial number of jobs while providing the cash strapped government with much needed sources of revenue to help pay down its growing foreign debt.
Two bills looking to legalize casino gambling in Brazil are currently on the table, but industry observers expect the fight to get either of them signed into law will be long.
Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp., currently owns and operates not only properties in Las Vegas such as the Las Vegas Sands, The Venetian and the Palazzo, his holdings extend as far as Macau and Singapore. In fact, the majority of Las Vegas Sands Corp’s revenue last year, some 90%, came from its overseas operations.
Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp has seen stellar growth numbers for some time now with first quarter revenues for 2018 at $3.58 billion, up 16.7% year-on-year.
The 84-year-old Adelson has long been active politically and lobbying Brazilian President Temer and other lawmakers comes as second nature.
As the single largest Republican donor, via a series of political action committees, Adelson has kicked down some $30 million so far this year to help the GOP retain the House of Representatives in this year’s mid-term elections.
As a long term Trump buddy, Adelson successfully lobbied the president hard to see the US Embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem as well as for the upcoming Trump summit with North Korean leader Kin Jung un to be held in neutral Singapore, where his Marina Bay Sands, once touted as the world’s most expensive stand alone property at a cost of $8 billion, dominates the skyline and will be a strong draw for the hordes of politicos, diplomats, security staff and journalists likely to attend the historic summit.
Nepal studies new casino law
The government in Nepal hopes to streamline its gambling regulations with a new law. The Kathmandu Post has reported that a draft of the Casino Act was submitted to the cabinet this week after being approved by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
“We will be submitting a draft to the cabinet… for its approval in principle to prepare a Casino Bill 2018,” said Ghanshyam Upadhyay, spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, as quoted by the Post.
“The Law Ministry has given its okay to a preliminary draft. After the Cabinet’s approval, we will begin to draft the bill. The move to introduce the Casino Act is to enhance investment and employment in the industry which is expected to grow quickly,” he said.
Currently the government’s budget statement states that there are seven casinos in operation in Kathmandu catering exclusively to foreigners, as Nepalese citizens are not allowed to gamble. The Himalayan nation of 26 million also forbids its citizens from gambling online, although the government itself does not block foreign gambling sites.
Casino gambling in Nepal hasn’t been without its problems. In 2013 the Tourism Ministry cancelled the licenses of casinos who had failed to pay their licensing fees and royalties. It took less than a year for the casinos to reopen their doors with the help of a court order.
“The most complicated matter for the department is that it cannot collect taxes and royalties as it has scrapped their licenses. In the legal sense, the casinos are operating unlawfully. But, we have to honor the court’s ruling,” he said.
“Most of the casinos are taking advantage of the legal complexity. They are even reluctant to pay the annual royalty of Rs30 million fixed by the Financial Act. We do not know when the court will issue a final verdict,” a Department of Tourism official told the Post.
Enter the new law. The Casino Act is designed to supersede the existing Casino Regulation and the court’s orders, regulating the casinos more efficiently and allowing the government to effectively collect the much-needed licensing and royalty fees.
Push for Macau casinos to join voluntary pension fund
The government in Macau is pushing for the former Portuguese enclave’s six casino operators to join a “voluntary” pension plan for all their employees. The government has argued that the pension plan would better protect casino workers and provide a better option for their pensions.
With the six operator’s casino licenses up for renewal in 2020 and 2022, labor representatives in the gambling mecca have also suggested that the government provide an incentive for the operators to participate as part of the license renewal process.
Macau lawmaker Leong Sun lok, working together with The Power of Macau Gaming Association, a labor group, told the GGRAsia media outlet, “The six casino operators have different pension schemes…but there are practices that… employees – upon ‘reasonable dismissal’ – will not get a single cent of the employers’ contribution to their pension scheme.” Adding, “In that sense, the government’s provident fund scheme is better because the employee can obtain the employer’s contribution in any scenario of a labor contract termination.”
The downside, he explained was that under the government’s voluntary scheme, casino employees could only access their pension after the age of 65.
Introduced last year, the voluntary fund expects employers and employees to contribute 5% of the worker’s basic monthly salary.
Un Hoi Cheng, vice president of the Social Security Fund’s administrative Committee, told GGRAsia “The withdrawal limitation for the non-mandatory provident fund [at 65 years old] is clearly a disadvantage. But we learnt that the casino operators are quite positive towards this provident fund scheme, and they have held some explanatory sessions to their workers on the scheme before.”
Cheng went on to add, “To protect workers’ rights, the Macau government definitely should have more say in its requirements on how the contribution should work for the provident fund scheme…especially when we are talking of the fact that the Macau gaming concessions will be refreshed.”