Macau has been undergoing an economic boom since the local government ended a longstanding monopoly and opened the casino business to foreign investors in 2002. But the Cotai Strip takes the boom, and the city's glitz factor, to a whole new level. The first part of the project, slated for completion in 2007, includes Hilton, Marriott, Dorsett, Sheraton, InterContinental, Regal and Four Seasons hotels and casinos in addition to Adelson's own Venetian Macao. Besides more than doubling the number of hotel rooms in the city, the 1.3-km Cotai Strip's initial phase will boost entertainment and business facilities with an arena for concerts and sporting events (including NBA games) and a convention center. By the time the strip is finished in seven to 10 years, it will feature 20 hotels with an average of 3,000 guest rooms each.
Adelson says he's encouraged by the success of his Sands Macao casino opened last May. The Sands is already approaching $1 billion in gambling revenue (compared with an annual take of $450 million at Adelson's Las Vegas flagship, The Venetian) and is expected to break even in the next few months. Adelson is so confident in his vision of a Vegas of the East—an idea that he says came to him in a dream—that he's trademarked the phrase "Asia's Las Vegas." And why, by the way, does Asia need a Las Vegas? Says Adelson: "Because it doesn't have one."