Is Vegas Poised for a Comeback? Genting Bets “Yes” with New Casino Plans

Posted on: March 7, 2013, 02:23h. 

Last updated on: March 11, 2013, 01:05h.

Back in 2008, when Echelon abandoned its plans for a glorious new hotel, casino, shopping and convention complex on the grounds of the former Stardust, it looked like the glory days of Vegas and its unrivaled building boom had come to a dead stop. Literally abandoned in the summer of 2008, with concrete and steel already laid, Echelon’s construction skeleton came to symbolize the death of the world’s greatest gambling Mecca  Casinos nearly emptied out, and the city seemed like a ghost town for awhile, at least to those who were used to seeing it bustling with tourists and gamblers.

It’s a Steal

Little by little, mostly by reverting to the old technique of practically giving the rooms away to lure gamblers back, Vegas has been making a comeback, but not at the speed of light by anyone’s standards. So when Malaysia-based Genting Group announced its acquisition of the Echelon site, along with plans to create a $2 billion hotel-casino complex that might actually rival the plans of its predecessor, you can bet it was a sign to everyone that Vegas is back, baby.

Genting only had to fork over $350 million for the 87-acre site, and remember, the bones of the hotel-casino are already up, which should save them a bundle more; after all, foundation work is probably the most labor-intensive part of any new project, especially with the rock-like sand that permeates Vegas’ ground.

The site of the former Stardust, like the phoenix, will rise from the ashes once again.

Big Plans

To be called Resorts World Las Vegas (why do we picture Clark Griswold driving up?), the new Vegas star is planning a three-year turnaround for a 2016 grand opening. The initial phase will be the 3,500 room hotel and its adjoining 175,000 square foot casino; next will be numerous restaurants, 250,000 square feet of retail, more than 500,000 square feet of on-site convention space, a theater (headliners, call your agents), and the ubiquitous Vegas pool(s) and their accompanying accoutrements.

They’ve Got Game

Gaming analysts consider Genting a top player in the hotel-casino universe, although this is their first entry into the Las Vegas field. The Malaysia-based company has a combined market capitalization of $38 billion, and includes Resorts World properties in Singapore, New York, Malaysia and Manila, as well as casinos in the UK, the Bahamas, and Australia. Genting also owns Star Cruises (a large cruise concern in Asia and the Pacific) and 50% of Norwegian Cruise Lines. The company was founded in 1965, and has over 58,000 workers all over the world.

Even with that impressive resume, they will still need to get licensing approval from Nevada gaming regulators before they can open their doors in three years.