It’s Thursday, so my long-awaited piece on Cosmo, 90 days out, is out in Vegas Seven:
It hasn’t been easy for the Cosmopolitan. When ground was broken in October 2005, it was one of a crop of planned casinos that were going to re-make Las Vegas. The Palazzo, Encore and Aria opened, but Boyd Gaming pulled the plug on Echelon in 2008, and the Fontainebleau’s post-bankruptcy owner, Carl Icahn, has no announced plans to resume construction on the partially built casino.Then there’s the Cosmopolitan. After the project’s original owners defaulted on a Deutsche Bank loan, the bank bought the hotel and decided to finish construction and run the casino itself, via its own management team.
I’ll give the folks at Cosmo credit for making the best of a bad situation and bringing something new to town. Whether that’s going to be enough to make the casino a success naturally remains to be seen but I think they’ve got as good a shot as anyone.
As I briefly mentioned on Two Way Hard Three, I think their current airport billboard ads leave something to be desired, but the casino seems to be making an effort to establish a real identity for itself in a way that I haven’t seen before. Usually, it’s just, “We’re the newest and the best!” or, “I’m Steve Wynn, and this is my new casino.” You didn’t really need to do much else to guarantee plenty of traffic for the first year or so.
In the current environment, however, it’s a different story. Aria, which was also pitched as the “Vegas for people who don’t currently go to Vegas” hasn’t, as yet, succeeded in drawing large numbers of people who wouldn’t otherwise come to town. Can Cosmo do it, or just be different enough to get a few hundred people a week to take a gamble on a Vegas trip? Or to convince people with deep attachments to (and accumulated points at) other properties to give it a try? It’s certainly possible.
I really look forward to getting a look inside the property and doing a sit-down interview with John Unwin sometime in the next few weeks.