LAS VEGAS: A giant new Las Vegas casino that opened on Thursday (June 24) is betting that receding fears of COVID-19 will bring a strong recovery in the international gambling hub.
The venue, Resorts World Las Vegas, will have 3,500 hotel rooms and house a 5,000-seat theater where stars like Celine Dion and Katy Perry are scheduled to perform in the coming months. There will also be 1,400 slot machines.
Developed by the Genting Group of Malaysia, the US$4.3 billion project will be one of the biggest resorts ever on the Las Vegas Strip, which is home to the Bellagio, Caesars Palace and other famed casinos.
Resorts World Las Vegas is billed as the first entirely cashless casino, with guests eventually being able to pay with cryptocurrency.
Speaking on CNA on Friday morning, Genting Group chairman and CEO Lim Kok Thay said that technology would set the casino apart from its competition.
"Being the first property to be built on the Las Vegas strip in more than a decade, we have the advantage to utilise technology that wasn't available 10 years ago," said Mr Lim, adding that its competitors would not be able to do so because of their existing infrastructure.
"Resorts World Las Vegas would offer a completely modern approach using technology and AI - both front-of-house and back-of-house - to enable the casino moving forward post-pandemic," he said.
After shutting down during the most severe stretch of the pandemic, Las Vegas casinos reopened in June 2020 with face-mask requirements and other strict protocols.
Tourism has been picking up gradually, but the recovery is still a work in progress, and conventions, a key business source, have yet to fully resume.
Unemployment in Las Vegas stood at nine per cent in April, compared with the national level of 5.7 per cent. The city's unemployment rate in April 2020 was 31.7 per cent, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The city's casinos were cleared in May to remove mask mandates for vaccinated visitors. Local officials on Jun 1 lifted other restrictions, including on large gatherings.
Founded in 1965, Genting manages casinos in Malaysia, Britain and in New York. The group also has investments in palm oil plantations, power generation and life sciences and biotechnology.
The company bought the Las Vegas property in 2013.