It may not be the best timing (time will tell), but the latest huge Macau gambling palace, The City of Dreams, opens today (Monday) and should be a good guide to the fortunes of the former Portuguese colony in South-East China.
Developed in partnership by 2 casino dynasties- Lawrence Ho and James Packer, The City of Dreams is on The Cotai Strip- Asia answer to The Las Vegas Strip. It´s a US$ 2.4 billion complex that will have in excess of 500 casino tables and 1,500 slots machines, as well as deisigner restaurants, shops, luxury hotels and impressive entertainment facilities.
It´s the only new casino opening its doors in 2009 following 6 years of gold rush here in Macau.
Lawrence Ho, , Stanley, is banking on bringing in visitors on the back of the entertainment on offer- not just gamblers. He is following a well trodden path blazed by the casinos of Las Vegas.
Macau already takes in more revenue than Las Vegas and Atlantic City combined thanks to fanatical Chinese gamblers.
But everything is not 100% rosy. The Chinese Government has started to go luke warm on the industry and has been making it more difficult for visitors from the mainland to get visas. There are concerns over money laundering and they are beginning to get unsettled at the thought of so much Chinese yaun being hoovered up by the “gweilos” or foreigners setting up in the city.
But anyway- back to the City of Dreams- the Hard Rock Hotel is an option when you stay and is crammed with memorabilia from legendary artists such as Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley and “The Bubble” is a multimedia entertainment dome.
The question is- will it bring in the punters or simply steal market share from existing punters flocking into the nearby Venetian and Stanley Ho´s network of properties? Only time will tell.