MGM Resorts posts quarterly loss on pandemic pain

(Reuters) – MGM Resorts International posted a quarterly loss compared with a year-ago profit on Wednesday, as COVID-19 travel restrictions dented business for the casino operator.

Net loss attributable to the company was $447.6 million, or 92 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $2.01 billion, or $3.91 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell to $1.49 billion from $3.19 billion a year earlier.

Casino mogul and political donor Sheldon Adelson dead at 87

Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose gambling and hotel businesses turned him into a major political power broker in the US and Israel, has died. 

He was 87.

The founder of the Las Vegas Sands casino company, Mr Adelson was known for his support of conservative causes and Israel.

He was a significant backer of US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

His death was caused by complications related to his treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the Las Vegas Sands company said in a statement.

In a statement, former US president George W Bush said he mourned the passing of a “friend”.

“He was an American patriot, a generous benefactor of charitable causes, and a strong supporter of Israel,” Mr Bush said. “He will be missed by many – none more than his beloved family.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Mr Adelson and his Israeli-born second wife Miriam “contributed endlessly to strengthening the Jewish people and the Jewish state”.

“He was a wonderful friend to us personally and an incredible champion of the Jewish people, the Jewish state and the alliance between Israel and America,” he said.

Sheldon Adelson life

Mr Adelson was raised in Boston, the son of Jewish immigrants, whose father worked as a cab driver.

He started working at a young age, selling newspapers on street corners as a teenager. 

A college dropout, who founded dozens of businesses, he launched the career for which he became known as the organiser of a successful computer business conference in the 1970s.

Looking for more space to host visitors for the event, he entered the hospitality business, buying the Sands hotel.

The Venetian resort owned by Sheldon Adelson
image captionThe Venetian resort, which included replicas of famous Veince landmarks, was Mr Adelson’s signature hotel

He was credited with fusing together the convention and hotel businesses, as he built lavish complexes in Las Vegas, Singapore and Macau that at his death made him ranked among the 30 richest men in the world, with a net worth of more than $30bn.

Power broker

Mr Adelson put that wealth to work for causes he supported, including medical research, Jewish youth groups and others. 

Mr Adelson had his hand in media, as the founder of the free Israel Hayom paper in Tel Aviv and the owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which he purchased in 2015.

He also donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Republicans and conservative groups over the last two decades, including more than $25m to President Donald Trump, who awarded Mr Adelson’s wife the Medal of Freedom in 2018.

“I’m against very wealthy ­people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it’s doable, I’m going to do it,” Adelson told Forbes magazine in 2012, a year in which he spent some $90m in an effort to stop the re-election of Barack Obama.

He was infamous for his fights, which included court battles against journalists, former business associates and his own sons. His firm later became the target of government investigations, paying millions to settle claims of violations of corruption laws, among other inquiries.

Ladbrokes owner Entain receives bid from MGM Resorts

US casino giant MGM Resorts has made an $11bn (£8.1bn) offer for British gaming company Entain, which owns Ladbrokes.

The move is the latest attempt by a casino operator to move into the online gambling business.

In addition to its chain of High Street betting shops, UK-based Entain also owns a number of online sports betting and gambling sites.

Entain confirmed the offer, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, but said the price was too low.

Entain had recently rebuffed an earlier $10bn (£7.3bn) all-cash offer from MGM, the newspaper said.

Along with Ladbrokes, FTSE 100-listed Entain also owns sports-betting site Bwin and online gaming group Partypoker.

It describes itself as “one of the world’s largest sports betting and gaming groups operating in the online and retail sector.”

Last month, Entain renamed itself from GVC Holdings. Other brands the $9bn group owns include Coral, Eurobet, Gala and Foxy Bingo.

The new bid for Entain comes with financial backing from MGM’s largest shareholder, InterActiveCorp (IAC), which took a 12% stake in MGM Resorts last August.

At the time, IAC’s chief executive Barry Diller said it planned to work with MGM to expand its online gambling portfolio.

Covid headwinds

The attempted acquisition comes as the casino industry faces headwinds from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Bricks-and-mortar casino operators have struggled under travel restrictions. 

The economy of Asian casino hub Macau shrank 49% in the first quarter of this year, while unemployment in Las Vegas reached 30% earlier in the year and remains well above the US average. 

MGM Resorts, which is the operator of the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, laid off 18,000 furloughed employees in the US in August. 

Many online gambling companies, by contrast, saw a boost during Covid-19 restrictions, prompting many casino owners to pivot their businesses towards online. 

Last September, MGM rival Caesars Entertainment struck a $3.7bn deal to buy UK-based William Hill.