Only One Gambling Site in Las Vegas’ New $8.5 Billion CityCenter

AriaIs gambling in Las Vegas becoming passé with the advent of new venues? 

Gaming regulators in Las Vegas last Friday granted preliminary licensing approval for the only casino component inside the $8.5 billion CityCenter project and suggested the revenue mix might be sharply different from the traditional gaming-driven environment that has existed since Las Vegas’ creation. 

During a hearing that lasted more than two hours, the Nevada Gaming Control Board was told not to expect additional gaming inside the multiple hotel, high-rise residential and entertainment complex. 

Aria, pictured, CityCenter’s 4,004-room centerpiece, was designed as the project’s only casino. Vdara and Mandarin Oriental are nongaming hotels, and Veer Tower is strictly residential. 

Executives from MGM Mirage and Dubai World, its 50-50 partner in the development, explained the CityCenter concept, using a promotional sales video and previewing Aria’s first television advertisement in what will be a $20 million marketing campaign. 

Gaming is not the focal point of the 67-acre project. The casino at Aria, roughly the size of Bellagio, will have only 145 table games and 1,940 slot machines, half of which will be linked to a server-based gaming platform. 

Aria President Bill McBeath said the casino’s revenue projections are modeled with Bellagio, but the CityCenter casino has fewer slot machines. He said Aria is designed to have private gambling salons like other MGM Mirage high-end casinos, but the rooms will not be used immediately. 

“There will be cross-marketing between the properties,” McBeath said. Aria will host MGM Mirage’s private Chinese New Year party for high-end customers at the MGM Grand, Bellagio and other company resorts. 

McBeath said Aria’s slot machines are projected to produce roughly $320 win per unit per day. 

During MGM Mirage’s quarterly earning conference call with analysts, City Center Chief Executive Officer Bobby Baldwin said Aria would produce $1.2 billion in revenue in 2010. 

“The (revenue) projections are optimistic,” Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said. “But they seem reasonable.” 

The three-member control board then recommended unanimous approval for Aria. The Nevada Gaming Commission will consider the recommendation this week.

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