Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS:US), the company controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is seeking a buyer for its casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
The Las Vegas-based company is asking as much as $1 billion for the property, the second-largest casino in the state based on gambling revenue, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.
A deal isn’t certain. Efforts to sell the casino have been complicated by price and potential buyers involved in other deals. Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN:US), which bought a St. Louis casino from Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CZR:US) in May for $610 million, said in November it’s splitting in two, a process that will take effect in the second half of this year. Pinnacle Entertainment (PNK:US), another operator, announced plans to buy Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA:US) last month for about $900 million.
Ron Reese, a Las Vegas Sands spokesman, said the company doesn’t respond to market speculation or rumor.
“We are proud of the financial results the property has achieved and the role we have played as a community partner there,” Reese said.
Casinos outside of Las Vegas have sold recently for about 7.5 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to Bloomberg Industries research.
In the 12 months to Sept. 30, Sands Bethlehem earned $109 million on that basis, according to company filings, suggesting a value of about $817 million. The property is carried on the books of Las Vegas Sands at $944 million.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this month proposed creating three casinos upstate. Sands Bethlehem, located at a former Bethlehem Steel plant, is the closest Pennsylvania casino to New York City. It ranked first in table games revenue among the state’s 11 casinos, according to data from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It ranked second in total casino revenue with $438 million in 2012.
Pennsylvania passed New Jersey to become the second-largest gambling market in the U.S. after Nevada, with revenue of $3.16 billion last year.
Sands Bethlehem, which opened in 2009, includes a 300-room hotel, a shopping mall and an entertainment facility. Las Vegas Sands owns 86 percent of the casino, hotel and entertainment portion and 35 percent of the retail, according to company filings. Plans for the area include a National Museum of Industrial History.
Las Vegas Sands, which generated 81 percent of its revenue in Macau and Singapore in the last quarter, has been looking to build additional resorts outside the U.S. including Spain and Canada. The company is also seeking to expand in Macau.
Las Vegas Sands gained 0.1 percent to $51.88 at the close in New York. The stock rose 8 percent in 2012.
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