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Steve Green

Venetian, Palazzo lay off workers amid downturn

6 July 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The Venetian and Palazzo hotel-casinos in Las Vegas have laid off 194 employees since Monday in response to the continuing economic downturn and the resulting drive to cut costs.

"It's an effort to continue to right-size our business," Las Vegas Sands Corp. spokesman Ron Reese said, adding the layoffs affected a variety of positions in multiple departments at the adjacent resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.

On March 27, Las Vegas Sands said 283 people had been laid off, trimming employment at the Venetian and the Palazzo resorts to about 7,000 full-time equivalent positions.

On May 5, Las Vegas Sands reported a loss for the first quarter ended March 31 of $87.7 million or 14 cents per share, vs. a loss of $11.2 million or 3 cents in the same quarter of 2008. Net revenue of $1.08 billion was about equal to that in the year-earlier quarter.

In announcing the first-quarter results, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson said the company was working to trim annual costs by $470 million to help it navigate through the recessionary environment.

With debt of $10.47 billion at the end of 2008, the company faces interest and preferred stock dividend costs that totaled $106.6 million in the first quarter.

The recession's affect on the company's big Las Vegas properties was apparent in the first-quarter numbers for the Venetian, where room occupancy of 89.1 percent was down from 91.1 percent in the 2008 quarter and revenue per available room of $187 was down from $250.

The Palazzo filled 92.7 percent of its rooms with revenue per available room of $204. Its numbers for the 2008 quarter are not comparable since the new resort was ramping up operations at that time.

Together the Las Vegas properties have 7,100 suites. The company also has casinos in Pennsylvania and Macau and is preparing to open a resort in Singapore.