75°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

$4 billion Resorts World licensing looks like a sure thing

The next phase of Las Vegas starts today in, of all places, the Sawyer Building.

Nearly a dozen representatives and executives from Genting Berhad, the Malaysia-based company that acquired the unfinished Echelon project on the Strip for $350 million 14 months ago, will face questions from the Gaming Control Board.

The corporation and several of its entities seek a finding of suitability from Nevada casino authorities. Genting wants to build the $4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas on the largely vacant 87-acre parcel and will proceed after it receives approval.

State gaming agents spent much of the past year investigating the multifaceted corporation, traveling to Malaysia, Singapore, London and New York. It might be the agency’s most expensive and largest probe ever.

The Echelon parcel once was home to the long-demolished Stardust. Genting’s project would result in the Strip’s first new megaresort in nearly a decade. Construction will incorporate much of the unfinished Echelon, which was shut down in 2008.

The hearing at the downtown state office building could take more than two hours. Expect an elaborate presentation on both the company and Resorts World.

If there are any issues with the application, they will be minor. The hearing will be thorough, and a comprehensive regulatory record will be made.

The bottom line?

Short of Genting’s entire board of directors being found to have ties to the Yakuza or Chinese organized crime triads, the company and its representatives will be found suitable by both the Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission, which will review the recommendation May 22.

Take that prediction to the bank.

Construction on the complex will start this year and result in some 2,000 to 3,000 construction jobs.

In March, Gov. Brian Sandoval, Clark County officials and local business leaders joined Genting Chairman KT Lim and other company executives in an over-the-top news conference at the offices of architects Steelman Partners to announce Resort World Las Vegas.

Sandoval said two months ago Genting officials had kept him apprised on the progress toward restarting the development.

“I have every confidence that they are moving forward,” Sandoval said in March on the one-year anniversary of the announcement.

Genting is a well-financed operation.

The company has a market capitalization of more than $40 billion, operates casinos around the world, including Resorts World properties in Singapore, Malaysia and Manila, Philippines, and at New York’s Aqueduct Racetrack. Genting has five separate publicly traded entities that operate casinos and other investments.

Genting isn’t shy about spending money in the United States.

A year before buying the Echelon site, Genting paid more than $400 million for 30 acres along Miami’s Biscayne Bay for the planned $3.8 billion Resorts World Miami, which was shelved after Florida lawmakers rejected casino expansion plans. The company is considering alternatives.

In April, Genting said it would bid on one of four casino licenses in upstate New York.

The company’s history and reputation might be one reason Sandoval hosted Lim and the Genting contingent on Labor Day weekend 2012 at the Star restaurant in Elko, where all dined on chorizo sandwiches. At the time, the company was considered its options.

Make no mistake, Sandoval wants Genting in Nevada and the unfinished Echelon site, a north Strip eyesore, made for a perfect development opportunity.

While the Resorts World Las Vegas site has sat seemingly untouched for more than a year, the company was working behind the scenes to move the project forward.

In a 2013 interview with Malaysian media, company officials stressed they wouldn’t move forward without completing the Nevada regulatory investigation, calling the process “one of the strictest you can get.”

Despite the conservative approach, Genting officials expressed confidence they would get a license and “commence the construction.”

Genting representatives today will offer elaborate details about Resorts World, maybe even repeating 2013’s suggestion that the development could include a live panda habitat.

A suitability finding is one step below licensing, which would have to be granted before the development opens in 2016 or 2017.

Either way, the next phase of Las Vegas growth and development opens today at the Sawyer Building.

Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Caesars new CEO appears to be in for the long term

Based on the terms of Tony Rodio’s employment agreement disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, he appears to be in for the long term with a $1.5 million annual salary, prospective bonus payments of $3 million, as well as a $3 million buyout clause. This doesn’t look like the pathway to a quickee company sale.