05/28/2004 12:00AM

Success of new casinos calls for even more expansion


The building boom in Las Vegas is not restricted to new homes.

Local companies have immersed both feet into building new casinos, here and abroad, and that spells good times for the Clark County economy.

The most publicized project has been Steve Wynn's new showcase, Wynn Las Vegas, which is on schedule for an April 2005 opening. Things are going so well that an expansion was announced less than a year before the $2.4 billion mega-resort opens. Wynn Las Vegas will add 2,700 more hotel rooms to the Las Vegas inventory.

Three other new casino projects will also have a positive effect here.

Station Casinos is building its new Red Rock Station, which will rival the beauty and style of its very popular Green Valley Ranch in Henderson. Now, long before Red Rock Stations' tentative opening in early 2006, Station Casinos chairman Frank Fertitta III announced at a recent shareholders' meeting another new project.

Fertitta said they hope to build a new "high-rise destination" on a 50-acre parcel where the Wild Wild West casino is situated. The Wild Wild West is located at the intersection of Tropicana and Industrial Road. The unnamed project will be in direct competition to the highly successful Palms, which is owned and operated by the Maloof family. The completion date would be sometime during 2008.

Meanwhile, the two-headed casino giant of Coast Resorts and Boyd Gaming broke ground on the new South Coast casino at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard South and Silverado Ranch. There's not much there now, but when the South Coast opens in the third quarter of 2005, an interchange with I-15 will be in place, as will thousands of new homes and condominiums.

Finally, the Las Vegas Sands, which is the parent company of The Venetian, just opened a $240 million resort on the island of Macau. An estimated 30,000 people were lined up to enter the new Sands Macau last Monday night. Before the evening was over, an estimated 50,000 visitors had come and gone through the 1 million square foot facility.

Far East marketing experts stated there are more than 1.4 billion adults who live within a short plane ride of Macau. A high percentage of those adults have the disposable income for leisure travel. It is hoped that, in the future, a pipeline of visitors and high-rollers will be funneled back here to Las Vegas.

While the Sands Macau and the Wynn Macau, scheduled for an early 2006 opening, will be best positioned to gain from this new marketplace, the other Las Vegas gaming entities are sure to benefit, too. An often used axiom is that a rising tide raises all boats.

Richard Eng is the turf editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and host of the Race Day Las Vegas Wrap Up radio show.