Macau’s newest casino opens its doors Sunday with high hopes that it will lure visitors from across Asia, with analysts saying it will further boost growth in the world’s biggest gaming hub. The HK$14.9 billion ($1.9 billion) Galaxy Macau, which boasts 450 gaming tables, 1,100 slot machines, and more than 2,200 hotel rooms, is the latest sign that gambling firms are betting large on the former Portuguese colony.
Macau hit a record $23.5 billion in gaming revenue last year, about 58 percent higher than 2009 and outpacing the Las Vegas Strip at least four-fold, according to analysts. The Galaxy’s opening Sunday comes days before the Sahara — an iconic Las Vegas hotel which has hosted everyone from Elvis Presley and Jerry Lewis to Frank Sinatra and the Beatles in the 1950s and 60s — closes its doors for the last time as the US gaming market continues to struggle.
“This is a golden opportunity for us to open Galaxy Macau, we are very confident,” Francis Lui, vice chairman of hotel operator Galaxy Entertainment Group, told a news conference Sunday ahead of a grand opening ceremony. “We hope it will welcome visitors not only from mainland China but those from Asia as well,” he said, calling the opening Macau’s “biggest event” this year. The casino will open its doors to visitors at 5:00 pm (0900 GMT).
Galaxy currently operates the luxury StarWorld Hotel and Casino plus several other casinos in the gaming boomtown, whose revenue is driven largely by the millions of mainland Chinese punters and high-rollers descending on it each year, thanks to the country’s surging economy. But gaming operators in the territory have been aiming to polish Macau’s former image as Asia’s seedy gambling den, turning it into a Las Vegas style family entertainment centre with a range of non-gaming options and resorts such as Galaxy’s sprawling gold-tinted complex.