Sands Cotai Opens

After a delay of several years because of the global financial crisis and worker shortages, the Sands Cotai Central opened April 11 in Macau, the fourth Sands China Ltd. resort-casino in the Chinese-run city.

The opening was marked by a traditional dragon dance, high-wire tightrope performance and lines that formed in front of the doors hours before they opened. The complex features 340 gaming tables and 40 VIP rooms. Another 200 tables will be added later in the year.

The Sands Cotai, which cost billionaire operator Sheldon Adelson $4.4 billion to build, is the 35th casino to open in Macau, and will likely to be the last until 2015, as no newer casinos have been approved by the government yet.

Sands China is seeking approval for a 3,600-room resort on a nearby plot of land, and several of the company’s rivals, such as Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International, are also waiting for projects to be given the green light on the so-called Cotai Strip, an area of reclaimed swampland that connects two islands.

Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal, and last year revenues topped $33.5 billion, five times the amount earned in Las Vegas in 2011.

As the newest addition to the strip in a while, the Sands Cotai should benefit greatly from the growing number of middle-class visitors to the area, who are drawn by shopping and other non-gambling activities.

Hong Kong is an hour away by ferry.