Vegas has a history of turning older hotels to desert dust and building newer, glitzier casinos in their places
Las Vegas transforming itself with big building boom
Will all that glitters turn to gold?
November 3, 1998
Web posted at: 1:45 p.m. EDT (1345 GMT)
LAS VEGAS (CNN) -- The glittery city that gambling built is making its biggest-ever bet: That tourism will expand sharply to fill the new luxury hotel-casinos being built.
Las Vegas is in the midst of a $6.5 billion building boom. The swank, 3,000-room Bellagio, which already has opened, cost $2 billion to build, and there are three other properties under construction on the Vegas Strip.
The new hotels are aiming to offer more than just gambling.
"(They're) creating a destination that is more than just a gaming destination ... but is an entertainment destination and moving into that whole category of visitor volumes that are substantially larger than just gaming," said Don Snyder, a spokesman for Boyd Gaming Corp.
However, the new hotels, which are among the largest and most expensive ever built in Vegas, still want to attract well-heeled high rollers, the big spenders of gambling.
The trouble is that many of those players have been coming from Asian nations. With the current economic crisis, those high rollers may be less willing to gamble.
"The best properties want these people, and now there are going to be four more best properties in line going after this audience of players," said Professor William Thompson of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
Wall Street is beginning to question the economic fate of Vegas.
"From our perspective, we're skeptical. There's more likely to be some market share shift. Older properties like the Stardust... and the Tropicana will find themselves the real losers," said Jason Ader, an analyst with Bear Stearns.
Las Vegas has a history of cannibalizing itself, returning its older hotels to desert dust and building glitzier casinos in their place.
But nothing has rivaled the magnitude of the recent building boom, and it remains to be seen if it will lead Las Vegas to a big jackpot or a losing streak.
Based on a report from CNN Correspondent Jim Hill.