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High Stakes in Vegas vs. Macau

9 Nov 2004

MACAU, China -- As reported by the Washington Post: "Glittery Las Vegas gambling has arrived in seedy Macau, promising new charms for China's inveterate players, and this former Portuguese colony may never be the same.

"The first Las Vegas invasion, the Sands, has risen bronze-tinted and modernistic on the edge of Macau's little harbor, where fast ferries from Hong Kong deliver thousands of gamblers every day. With more than 300 tables and 500 slot machines in 165,000 square feet of luxury casino, the sleek new entry scooped up almost $36 million in the first 10 weeks after it opened in mid-May.

"Venetian Macau Ltd., the Las Vegas Sands Inc., subsidiary that built the Sands, has started construction on a second high-end casino near Macau International Airport. Wynn Resorts, another Las Vegas firm elbowing into Macau gambling, has launched two similarly grandiose projects, one of which includes a golf course along with its 110,000-square-foot casino.

"The competition from Las Vegas has pushed the traditional Macau gambling empire, created by the legendary Stanley Ho, to refurbish frayed facilities and erect new ones.

"...The new construction is only part of the picture. The deepest changes may be in the personality of this 10.5-square-mile territory on the South China Sea, which has a long tradition of laissez faire, allowing prostitutes, loan sharks and gangsters to prosper alongside the croupiers. But the Las Vegas gaming industry has made it clear it intends to market gambling in Macau as wholesome entertainment.

"'Macau can no longer be just a gambling den,' said an industry source aware of marketing strategies. The Las Vegas gambling companies, the source added, 'are bringing a sense of entertainment for the family as well as the man.'..."

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