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Gaming Guru

Chris Jones
 

Sands Macau Set to Bow

17 May 2004

Barring any unexpected setbacks or changes, a new international gaming era is set to debut late this evening when officials from Las Vegas Sands Inc. will open the U.S. company's first casino venture in the seaside Chinese enclave of Macau.

Fireworks, dragon dancers and a bevy of Las Vegas showgirls will be on hand to help Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson and other executives open Sands Macau, a 1 million-square-foot casino project that cost approximately $240 million.

Sands officials have scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. Tuesday in Macau, followed by a scheduled 2:30 p.m. public opening. During Daylight-saving time periods, Las Vegas is 15 hours behind Macau time, meaning those events would occur today at 8 and 11:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Located near a ferry terminal that connects with Hong Kong, Macau's largest neighboring city about 35 miles to the east, Sands Macau will in many ways double as a connecting point for Asian and American gambling interests.

"It's East meets West," Venetian spokesman Ron Reese said Friday.

Reese said Sands Macau will help Adelson's company produce revenue and build brand awareness in preparation for the planned late 2006 opening of The Venetian Macau, which will be built alongside several other hotel-casino properties in an area of reclaimed land known as the Cotai Strip.

Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn also plans to build a lavish, Las Vegas-style casino in the area.

Reese said Sands Macau will function as an urban casino, while Venetian Macau will act at as full-service resort with approximately 1,500 rooms planned for its first phase. In contrast, Sands Macau has only 51 hotel suites ranging in size from 1,000 to 8,000 square feet.

Bill Weidner, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands, believes the Cotai Strip will someday serve as China's top resort destination. Until then, the company plans to earn money from Asian "day trippers" visiting Sands Macau from Hong Kong and other nearby areas.

Sands Macau will also include 18 restaurants, bars and entertainment areas, as well as decorative touches such as a 120-foot-long chandelier that weighs more than 100,000 pounds, Reese said.

The opening of the Sands Macau casino will end the nearly 50-year-old casino monopoly of casino operator Stanley Ho, who will continue to operate casinos under the new licensing laws that allowed U.S. gaming companies to enter the market.