Wed, Aug 29, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Doors open at new Venetian Macao resort and casino

BLOOMBERG

Las Vegas Sands Corp's billionaire chairman Sheldon Adelson opened the world's biggest casino in Macau and unveiled ambitions to expand in India and Japan as Asian gambling booms.

The new 3,000-room Venetian Macao resort aims to tap China's 1.3 billion people, and Adelson said he's also keen on opening in the world's second-most populous nation.

"We are very much interested in, one, attracting Indians to come to Macau, and two, establishing in India, when the government makes the necessary changes," Adelson said yesterday at the opening ceremony.

The Venetian, with 870 gaming tables and an indoor recreation of Venice's St Mark's Square, is part of an US$11 billion investment in Macau by Adelson, who has also won the right to build a casino in Singapore.

"This is a big bet," said Billy Ng, a Hong Kong-based analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

"There could be some missteps in the beginning, but we expect things to start moving up in about a year," he said.

Las Vegas Sands shares fell 3.9 percent to US$97.79 in US trading on Monday on word from the company that the first stage of its Macau project cost US$2.4 billion, 33 percent more than earlier estimates.

Adelson, 74, dismissed suggestions that he's overreaching.

"There's absolutely no question about the viability of this project whatsoever," he said.

"It's the job of the analysts to be skeptical. It's my job as an entrepreneur to be visionary," he said.

Adelson said he's not interested in opening in Taiwan, because Macau is too competitive. Still, India is an option, he said.

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