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Macao New Casino Attracts Big Crowd

2007-02-14

Thousands of gamblers yesterday jammed into a new casino owned by tycoon Stanley Ho, who's trying to fend off an invasion into Macau by Las Vegas gambling dens.

Many of the punters who crowded into the Grand Lisboa on opening day were big-betters from other places in Asia who helped push Macau past the Las Vegas Strip last year as the world's biggest gaming center. Macau is the only place in China where casinos are legal. Zhang Dengshan, 28, sipped a free cup of green tea as he seemed mesmerized by a trio of silver bikini-clad blonde dancers gyrating on a stage behind a bar on the casino floor.
"This place is nice. It's much roomier than the Las Vegas-style casinos," said Zhang. Lin Jinshan said, "It's nice and comfortable. I'll come here now because the other casinos are getting too crowded." The Grand Lisboa appeals to the gamblers. But the Las Vegas tycoons like Adelson want to attract a new crowd to Macau. They hope to lure conventioneers, shoppers and families who plan to spend about three days here. In the past four years, some of the biggest names from Las Vegas - Sheldon Adelson, Stephen Wynn and MGM Mirage Inc - have been aggressively building casinos, luxury hotels and mega resorts in Macau. Before he opened the HK$3 billion (US$384 million) Grand Lisboa on Sunday, the 85-year-old Ho acknowledged that his market share slipped to 63 percent last year, and analysts widely agree it will erode further. But Ho, who has 17 casinos in Macau, said his new flagship Grand Lisboa would compete well with the Las Vegas-style casinos because of his long experience in the market. "We are the leaders, not the followers," he said. "We know the city well." Ho is battling a common perception that his casinos are stodgy, smoky and plagued with surly service. His new five-floor casino was decorated with plush red carpet and silver light fixtures with strands of crystal beads. The gaming floors have 240 tables and 484 slot machines.


(Source:Shanghai Daily , 2007-02-14)