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March 22, 2005

Las Vegas-style strip slated for Macau

HONG KONG

U.S. casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. has teamed up with seven major hotel chains to develop what it calls an Asian version of the Las Vegas Strip in the southern Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

The seven hotel operators are Four Seasons, Hilton Hotels, Inter-Continental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Dorsett Hotel Group and Regal Hotels International, the company said in a statement.

The first phase of the project in Macau’s Cotai area — set to open in 2007 —will feature seven resort hotels with more than 10,000 rooms, casinos and eight entertainment theatres as well as a convention centre, Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson said.

“Never have so many recognizable brands assembled in one place at one time to create a new international tourism destination almost overnight,’’ said William Weidner, the company’s president.

“It took 75 years for Las Vegas to emerge as an international destination. Our intention is to replicate that feat in less than three years,’’ he said.

Adelson did not give details on the deals with the seven hotel chains Friday, but his company said late last year that it will operate the casinos and its partners will finance and run the hotels.

Las Vegas Sands is among the new casino players in the enclave since 2002, when the Macau government ended a four-decade monopoly held by Hong Kong tycoon Stanley Ho.

Adelson, who made his mark in Las Vegas with the Venetian casino-hotel, a replica of Venice complete with canals and singing gondoliers, opened the Sands casino in Macau last May.

He is building a replica of the Venetian in the enclave which is estimated to cost $1.8 billion (U.S.) and will be the centrepiece of the “Cotai Strip.’’ The resort is scheduled to open in early 2007.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1999, is just west of Hong Kong and attracts thousands of Hong Kong and Chinese gamblers who have no casinos at home.

The Associated Press

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