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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Inside gaming: Sands ruling may be seen as Wynn win

2 June 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada –- For inside baseball fans, the score from the $43.8 million verdict against Las Vegas Sands Corp. could be characterized as Steve Wynn 1, Sheldon Adelson 0.

The casino developers, who are oftentimes antagonists, were not adversaries in the lawsuit.

However, the Las Vegas law firm that handles gaming matters for Wynn Resorts Ltd. was part of the legal team that represented Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen during the six-week trial in Clark County District Court. A jury ruled Suen should be compensated for his efforts in helping Las Vegas Sands earn a Macau gaming license in 2002.

John O'Malley, from the Los Angeles office of Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski, was Suen's lead counsel. Attorneys James Pisanelli and Debra Spinelli-Hays from the Las Vegas office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Wynn's law firm, played a role in the case.

Other attorneys from the firm occasionally popped into the trial. Todd Bice, who represents the Nevada Resort Association and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, watched the reading of the verdict. Partner Frank Schreck, who represents Steve Wynn, sat through some of the closing arguments.

Sands Chairman Adelson was not without his own Las Vegas attorney heavyweights. Legal icon Sam Lionel of Lionel Sawyer & Collins was at the defense table throughout the trial.

Following the verdict, Suen's legal team found the perfect location for a celebration dinner: the SW Steakhouse inside Wynn Las Vegas.

***

Wall Street barely shrugged after the verdict. The financial community had more interest in Las Vegas Sands increasing the frequency of its Macau high-speed ferry boat service linking the Cotai Strip with Hong Kong.

"While the ruling is certainly not a positive for Las Vegas Sands, we do not believe it is a significant negative catalyst either," Bear Stearns gaming analyst Joe Greff said.

***

Suen's court victory garnered coverage in Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel and other markets where Adelson and Las Vegas Sands have business ties. Hong Kong's The Standard carried the headline, "HK businessman beats casino giant in fight for Macau share."

***

Maybe the American Gaming Association has run out of casino bosses. The 2008 inductees for the Gaming Hall of Fame names just one person who ever ran a casino.

Bernie Goldstein, chairman and former CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos, heads the four-person list. Also named were boxing promoters Bob Arum and Don King, and celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.