Everything’s Bigger in Massachusetts

1199307197It has been repeated many times in this space that Las Vegas Sands Corp. boss Sheldon Adelson is (a) reportedly worth $20.5 billion and the third richest man in the country, (b) Dorchester raised, and (c) highly desirous of opening a resort casino in his home-state. Well, courtesy of BusinessWeek, it looks like we may be able to amend that a bit: he’s highly desirous of opening the mother of all casinos in his home state.

Here’s an excerpt from the story the business mag did on him this week:

[Adelson] met with Patrick’s top economic advisers in May, and boasts he could build “the largest building in the world in two years.” But he says he’d give Massachusetts’ government whatever design it wants.

Well then—the biggest in the world, huh? For clarification I put in a call to Sands spokesman Ron Reese. According to him, the key word in that excerpt is “could.”

“What Mr. Adelson is saying is a testament to the development capabilities of Las Vegas Sands Corps,” Reese said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re planning on building the world’s largest building there, but it means we have unique capabilities.”

Still, Adelson wouldn’t have said that if he wasn’t trying to make a point. I’m going to disregard the claim that anything could be done here in the land of the Big Dig in just two years—that’s just silly talk—but the “largest building in the world” part should not just be dismissed as bluster.

As I mention in the magazine this month, Sands is known for huge development projects. The mammoth casino on Macao (just off the Chinese coast) is currently the world’s largest, and it would be absolutely consistent for them to propose something similar here.

Just a couple weeks ago, Adelson was quoted in the Herald arguing thusly for only having two casinos in the state, as opposed to three, which is what Gov. Deval Patrick’s legislation currently calls for:

It’s too many with each (developer) spending $2 billion. You have to have convention space, shopping areas, restaurants and showrooms. You have to put up entertainment. It’s an awful lot of money.

Two billion dollars? Who said $2 billion dollars for each developer? Everyone else has been talking about developments more in the $1 billion range.

UMass Dartmouth professor and gaming expert Clyde Barrow told me today that he thinks this is all careful posturing by Adelson. Since it doesn’t make sense for him to build such a gigantic complex here if there’s competition from two other resorts, his hope is to impress upon state representatives the value of amending Gov. Patrick’s legislation to only license two casino operators.

So even though he told BusinessWeek that he’d give Massachusetts whatever it wants, the real message here seems pretty clear: If Massachusetts gives him what he really wants, he’ll build a casino that, even if it’s not the biggest in the world, is still really, really, exceptionally leviathan. Really.