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Opening statements begin in Las Vegas Sands trial

Hannah Dreier, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Lawyers gave their opening statements Wednesday in the dispute between the Las Vegas Sands casino and a Hong Kong businessman who once consulted for the casino giant.

Attorneys for Richard Suen said Sands owes him $328 million for his help winning a gambling license in the Chinese enclave of Macau.

"This is about not paying your debts even when you have the means to," said Suen attorney John O'Malley.

Sands attorneys said Suen is owed nothing, arguing that officials in Macau, not Beijing, decide which companies to license.

"There is an old saying: 'Success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan.' That is the story of this case," said Sands attorney Richard Sauber.

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is expected to testify Thursday.

It's the second time this fight has played out in a Clark County court. A jury decided in Suen's favor in 2008, but the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the verdict in 2010. Among other things, the Supreme Court said the district judge shouldn't have allowed hearsay statements during the trial.

Suen filed the lawsuit in 2004 after failing to reach a compensation agreement with Sands.

Attorneys on Wednesday argued outside the presence of the jury about how Adelson would approach the stand. In the previous trial, the 79 year-old billionaire was escorted to the stand by his wife.

O'Malley acknowledged that the casino mogul has difficulty walking, but asked that he not enter the room on the arm of a family member, as it could evoke undue sympathy with the jury.