|By Frank Quaratiello, Boston
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 21, 2011--Multi-billionaire gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson, a Dorchester native who runs Las Vegas Sands Corp., is mulling whether to ante into the Massachusetts casino game, his spokesman confirmed -- a development casino watchers say is a potential "game-changer."
"The company remains interested in developing an integrated resort property in Massachusetts, but has not made any final determinations," said Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese. "We will continue to monitor the situation and undertake our internal process as it relates to new development opportunities."
David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said Adelson's entry could be a potential "game-changer" in the budding Massachusetts casino landscape, as at least half a dozen developers have begun jockeying for three resort gaming licenses.
"I think Sheldon Adelson will get involved once the other guys have laid their cards on the table," said casino expert Richard McGowan of Boston College. "He's the elephant in the room. He's been much more successful than (Steve) Wynn."
Schwartz said, "If he tries to compete for the eastern Massachusetts casino license, you've got a real clash of the titans. Three of the biggest names in the industry -- Wynn, Caesars and Sands -- would be competing for one license." Wynn is linked with Robert Kraft in Foxboro, while Caesars is partnering with Suffolk Downs.
Adelson runs the Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Las Vegas Strip as well as the massive Sands Expo Center and is worth an estimated $21.5 billion -- nearly five times the combined wealth of Wynn and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, according to Forbes magazine.
In 2004, the Sands Macao opened as the first Western casino in the Chinese-controlled former Portuguese colony. Then, in 2007, Adelson opened the world's largest casino, the Venetian Macao. He opened the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore in 2010.
"Adelson's the only person who owns casinos in the three top markets -- Macao, Singapore and Las Vegas," Schwartz said. "Wherever he goes, he's formidable. He's got a real proven track record of creating a real integrated resort that government officials tend to like and that's what puts him over the top."
Reese declined to say what Bay State locations Adelson is eyeing. McGowan predicted, "I think Adelson will look at land in the Seaport District depending on what (Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino) thinks, or out in Marlboro."
Meanwhile, after a Herald review of state unemployment numbers found Boston stands to benefit more from a casino than the Foxboro area, Kraft spokesman Jeff Cournoyer defended Wynn's Foxboro resort casino proposal yesterday, saying, "Wynn Resorts is best-in-class, and the town, region and state all stand to benefit from the quality of the jobs they would create in Foxboro."
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