Sands sued in Macau for $375 mln

Sands sued in Macau for $375 mln

casino, China, Macau HONG KONG - The Associated Press
Sands sued in Macau for $375 mln

The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, owned by Sands Corp, is seen in Macau. AP Photo

Las Vegas Sands Corp., the U.S. gambling company controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is being sued for $375 million in Macau, a special administrative region of China, over the way it won a lucrative gaming license in the Asian casino hub.

Asian American Entertainment Corp. claims in a lawsuit that Las Vegas Sands breached its contract by going behind its back to team up with another company to bid for the license.

Asian American is controlled by Taiwanese-American businessman Shi Sheng Hao, also known as Marshall Hao. It is suing Las Vegas Sands for 3 billion patacas ($375 million). The Macau lawsuit follows an earlier one filed in Nevada, which was dismissed.

Jorge Menezes, the Macau lawyer acting for Asian American, said yesterday that Hao “really feels that he was let down by Adelson.” He declined to comment on the details of the case.

Macau, which is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, raked in $33.5 billion in revenue last year from 34 casinos. Macau became the world’s most lucrative gambling market after a four-decade casino monopoly was ended in 2002, opening the way for foreign operators to enter the market.

Under the laws of Macau, a former Portuguese colony, defendants have two months to reply to lawsuits. Menezes said the case will most likely go to trial next year.

Sands China Ltd., which operates the company’s three Macau casinos, called Asian American’s legal case “meritless.” “The company will vigorously defend the matter in court,” it said yesterday in a statement filed to the Hong Kong stock exchange where Sands China is listed.