And an opening

Closings were in the news yesterday, but there was a big opening in Macau as well. From the AP:

Thousands of gamblers crowded into American billionaire Stephen Wynn’s new $1.2 billion casino resort on Wednesday in Macau — the Chinese territory that may soon unseat the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s most profitable gambling capital.

Fireworks showered the Wynn Macau with sparks just before its midnight opening. A huge sign lit up with red lights, while speakers blared Frank Sinatra’s “Luck be a Lady” outside the 600-room complex that hopes to lure China’s swelling population of gamblers.

Macau — a peninsula and two islands off the southeastern Chinese coast — is the only place in China that allows casino gambling. The tiny territory — less than one-sixth the size of Washington, D.C. — was a Portuguese enclave until it was handed back to China in 1999.

Zhu Jingqing, a middle-aged man from the central Chinese province of Hubei, was in the huge crowd that rushed into the casino when it opened.

“I feel that all mainlanders should come here to have a look,” he said.

Kong Ermu, 28, a Chinese tourist from the eastern province of Anhui, said, “It’s far better than what I imagined. It’s classier and comfortable.”

Wynn, 65, was one of two Las Vegas gaming tycoons who were allowed to open casinos here after the government in 2002 broke up a monopoly controlled by local mogul Stanley Ho for 40 years. Ho’s casinos were smokey, dingy venues — far from the glitz and sparkle of Las Vegas.

Ending the monopoly sparked a building boom that will bring an estimated 2,200 new hotel rooms into the market this year and another 15,000 in 2008.

“The speed of development is dizzying. The population it seeks to serve is expanding,” Wynn told reporters just hours before his resort’s midnight opening.

Many believe that Macau will soon overtake the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s casino capital. Last year, Macau was about even with the Las Vegas Strip, which had “win,” or net amount lost to casinos, of $5.3 billion. Experts see Macau’s gambling revenue growing quickly to $9 billion to $11 billion by 2010 and upward of $15 billion by 2012.

U.S. Mogul Wynn Opens Macau Casino

Of course, time will tell if Wynn is right–some, including Sheldon Adelson, say he’s not–but if the past is any predictor, he will be.