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LAS VEGAS-Casino-resort operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. is once again at risk of exceeding the maximum leverage ratio tied to its US senior secured credit facility and FF&E financings and needs to raise more capital. Without any changes to its operations, the company said Thursday it will exceed allowable ratio of net debt-to-trailing 12-month adjusted EBITDA for its Las Vegas properties in the fourth quarter, which could lead to a default.

To avoid breaching the maximum leverage ratio in the third quarter Las Vegas Sands completed a private placement of $475 million in convertible senior notes with its principal stockholder chairman Sheldon Adelson and his family. Between then and now, the company revealed that it is working with its financial adviser “to develop and implement a capital raising program that would be sufficient to address our current and anticipated funding needs.”

In order to comply in the fourth quarter and beyond, the company says it will need to do one or more of the following: decrease the rate of spending on its development projects; obtain additional financing at the parent company level, the proceeds from which could be used to reduce our Las Vegas operations’ net debt; or increase adjusted EBITDA at its Las Vegas properties, which could be achieved by contributing up to $50 million of capital per quarter from cash on hand.

If none of those things occur, and the company cannot obtain waivers or amendments to its domestic credit facilities the company would be in default, which would in turn trigger cross-defaults under its airplane financings and convertible senior notes. Lenders could then accelerate the indebtedness outstanding. If the company could not refinance any of the amounts, it also would be precluded from accessing any available borrowings.

If that occurs, “we would need to immediately suspend portions, if not all, of our ongoing global development projects and consider other alternatives,” the company states. “These factors raise a substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.”

Las Vegas Sands’ share price on Thursday afternoon was trading at approximately $8 per share, down from $144 per share just 53 weeks ago. Most other casino operators have seen huge drops in their share prices in recent weeks and months.

A gaming index that launched in 1998 with a value of 100 and tracks the share prices of publicly traded gaming companies hit a high of 667.09 in October 2007 but now stands at 262.80 following a 29.3% decline in October. Compared to the same month of the prior year, valuations within the gaming sector were down 60.6% in October, according to the creator of the index, Applied Analysis, a local business research and advisory firm.

Adelson’s loan was in the form of preferred stock that will pay 6.5% interest over five years. In a similar move, fellow gaming executive Steve Wynn in September paid $4 million in fees in order to maintain its interest rates and had loan covenants altered to help Wynn Resorts maintain its debt-to-cash-flow ratio while also being able to borrow additional money to complete Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, according to SEC filings and published reports.

MGM Mirage, meanwhile, is trying to raise an additional $500 million so it can complete a $3-billion bank financing for its five-tower, 19-million-square-foot Citycenter project that is under construction and scheduled to open all at once in late 2009. In August, company executives told analysts that the project had received commitments for a little more than half of that total from the lead banks–Bank of America, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, BNP Paribas, and Sumitomo Mitsui–and additional, smaller commitments from Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, and the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Boyd Gaming solved the construction financing issues for its $4.8-billion Echelon development by <Bhalting the 87-acre project a full year into construction. The move, announced a couple of months ago, marked the first time in decades that a project on the Las Vegas Strip had been shut down after breaking ground.

The developer of the $700-million M Resort, Spa & Casino in Henderson, NV, avoided financing problems altogether. Anthony Marnell III, the developer, told GlobeSt.com in August, shortly after the topping-out ceremony, that all necessary financing and fixed-price construction contracts have been in place since the start of construction. The project is on track for an early 2009 debut.

MGM is a partner in M Resort by way of a $160-million subordinated convertible note it provided in April 2007. MGM Mirage has the right to convert the note into a 50% equity interest in the M Resort after 18 months of the note’s issuance if not previously repaid. Marnell told GlobeSt.com that MGM will indeed be a 50-50 partner in the project by the time November rolls around.

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