he resort owned by German lender Deutsche Bank was the last casino to receive full funding before loans became impossible to get for struggling Las Vegas casino projects.
The economy has battered tourism in Nevada, but Cosmopolitan officials hope their opening is timed with a rebound.
Hotel guests got keys in a lobby dominated by video-screen columns that cycle moving art, while VIPs including industry types and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and his wife mingled, drank champagne and waited for an exclusive concert with Brandon Flowers, the frontman for rock band The Killers.
Bettors were expected to place their first wagers at about 8 p.m. PST, just after doors opened to the general public. Earlier in the day, CEO John Unwin and other officials of the us$ 3.9 billion Cosmopolitan cut a ceremonial ribbon beneath the crystal strings of the resort's three-story chandelier bar, promising a new era of luxury lodging in the town that desperately needs tourism to improve.
The ritzy opening comes at a time when Nevada is attempting to rebound from a battered economy dependent on tourism. More visitors have come so far this year than in 2009 or 2008, but they're not spending as much money and there are more casinos on the Strip than before.
Economists from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas said the recovery of Sin City is dependent on a rebound of the national economy, so people have more money to vacation in Nevada. The state has no other major industries to supplement gambling and tourism the economists said in a report released Wednesday. Still, Unwin believes 2010 is a better time to open than last year. "The time is right," he said. "We're so ready - we want to get started."
The Cosmopolitan opens on the Las Vegas Strip exactly one year after the Aria Resort & Casino, the centerpiece hotel of CityCenter next door to the Cosmopolitan. CityCenter, a joint venture owned by MGM Resorts International and Dubai World, posted an operating loss of us$ 1.27 billion during the first three quarters this year.
The Cosmopolitan, owned by German lender Deutsche Bank, must attract thousands of people each day to gamble, occupy rooms and eat in its restaurants. Its relationship with Deutsche Bank allowed it to borrow money under much better terms than other casinos could have, but experts say it must still outperform even the top Strip casinos to justify its price tag.
To get there, Unwin told The Associated Press in an interview that The Cosmopolitan must do extensive marketing and be willing to adjust based on customer demands. "There will be unexpected things that happen so we'll work through those," he said. "One of our advantages as an independent is it allows us to be pretty nimble. We can make changes."
The Cosmopolitan inked a deal with Marriott International earlier this year to help drive customers to the resort. The partnership lets Marriott loyalists earn and redeem rewards points at the Cosmopolitan - the chain's only affiliated hotel on the Strip. Competitors, however, aren't likely to give up customers without a fight.
The sour economy has stopped construction of more major casinos on the Strip. The half-finished Fontainebleau Las Vegas was bought earlier this year in bankruptcy court by billionaire investor Carl Icahn for $156 million, but he hasn't said when he will finish it.
Boyd Gaming said last month in a regulatory filing that it doesn't expect to resume construction on its us$ 4. billion Echelon project across the street for at least three to five years. "We also believe financing for a development project like Echelon continues to be unavailable," Boyd said in the filing.