LAS Vegas Sands Corp chairman and CEO Sheldon G. Adelsons mission is to turn gambling dens into cities of entertainment.
My approach is to build mini Las Vegases in different parts of the world, he said after receiving the Malcolm S. Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award yesterday.
The award is presented to honour a lifetime of achievement in entrepreneurial capitalism and is the highest form of recognition of global business success Forbes Inc bestows on a single individual.
Last years recipient was Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-Shing.
Asia can handle tens of these mini-Las Vegases, Adelson said, referring to potential markets in Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, Western Europe, South America and India.
Gaming has evolved into a package of entertainment elements that include shopping, spas and sightseeing. The casino occupies only 1% of the total amount of space in the Venetian Hotel & Casino, while in Macau, it takes up only 5%.
In conferring the award, Forbes magazine president CEO and editor-in-chief Steve Forbes, said the winner had blazing insight and a larger vision that he brought to reality.
He created a whole new experience that combined the ambience in Las Vegas, which was something very unique. It is the spirit of how he achieved that success and went ahead to do it and the risks he had to take.
Adelson has worn different hats mortgage broker, joined the army, journalist, venture capitalist and was involved in the airline charter business before turning Las Vegas Sands around.
When he started, he could not even meet the bankers. Adelson said gaming was still at its infancy.
In Asia, he said, Macau was the only country where it was legalised, although Las Vegas Sands had been in existence for 76 years.
From being an illegal industry, gaming has evolved into a legal multi million dollar business and further evolved into an entertainment experience. Adelson said to think that gaming was replete with gangsters is a misperception.
On why his company was now building a casino resort in Singapore, he said: We are building an integrated resort which includes all entertainment elements. From gaming, we are moving into a Disneyland for adults.
His secret of success is to identify the challenges, bring in change and add value.
To him, adding value means making sure profitability is spread throughout the whole week at the casino resorts, be it a weekday, night or weekend. By doing this, he can capture the retirees, the real gamblers and even the families.
On why he chose the Venetian theme, Adelson said this was an idea his wife suggested when they were on a short holiday abroad.
He thought about it and was convinced that a combination of Venetian romance and luxurious surroundings could be a winner, adding that the formula had worked so far.
His philanthropic cause is to fund medical research to find a cure for diseases. He and his family had decided that they would part with a portion of their wealth to charity.