$2.4 billion Venice-themed casino opens in southern China

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and his wife Miriam Adelson, both seen behind a gondola, attend the opening ceremony of the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau Tuesday. Casinos like the Wynn and Sands THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, KIN CHEUNG

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and his wife Miriam Adelson, both seen behind a gondola, attend the opening ceremony of the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau Tuesday. Casinos like the Wynn and Sands THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, KIN CHEUNG

By Sylvia Hui

MACAU – With the crash of a champagne bottle against a gondola, Macau’s Venetian casino opened Tuesday, dwarfing anything in Las Vegas and big enough, its operators say, to shift the magnetic north of the gambling world to this small city in southern China.

American billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam inaugurated the $2.4 billion Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Cotai by smashing a bottle of champagne against a gondola, which will float down one of three indoor canals, compared with only one at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Casinos like the Wynn and Adelson’s Sands have led this small city in southern China past the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s most lucrative gambling center.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Adelson wants to take it a step further with the 10.5 million square foot Venetian.

Adelson hopes the complex will transform Macau from a gambling pit stop for Chinese tourists to a vacation and business convention destination, where visitors shop, watch shows – and roll the dice.

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    “Today is the beginning of what has been a dream of mine for some time – to reproduce the capital of entertainment in Asia for Asians,” Adelson said Tuesday at a news conference.

    Macau’s casinos are currently scattered across the territory, a peninsula connected to mainland China and two outlying islands by a reclaimed strip of land called Cotai.

    Adelson said his Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Cotai is the cornerstone of what will become a concentrated resort area.Las Vegas Sands claims the 10.5 million square foot Venetian – twice the size of the Las Vegas original – is the largest building in Asia and the second largest in the world. Boeing Co. claims it has the world’s largest building – a plant in Washington state.

    The Venetian boasts what it claims to be the world’s largest gaming space of 550,000 square feet, housing 3,400 slot machines – with room to expand to 6,000 – and more than 800 gambling tables.

    It has 3,000 rooms, a 15,000-seat sports arena, retail space for 350 stores, and 1.2 million square feet of convention space.