Venetian Macao Resort - World Largest Casino Now Open

With the crash of a champagne bottle against a gondola, Macau's Venetian casino opened Tuesday, dwarfing anything in Las Vegas and big enough, its operators say, to shift the magnetic north of the gambling world to this small city in southern China.

American billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam inaugurated the $2.4 billion Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Cotai by smashing a bottle of champagne against a gondola, which will float down one of three indoor canals, compared with only one at the Venetian in Las Vegas

Casinos like the Wynn and Adelson's Sands have led this small city in southern China past the Las Vegas Strip as the world's most lucrative gambling center.

Las Vegas Corp. Chairman Adelson wants to take it a step further with the 10.5 million square foot Venetian.

Hundreds of visitor streamed under the golden dome just inside the entrance Tuesday, treading on thick champagne colored carpet and taking in the fresco paintings on the wall.
Adelson hopes the complex will transform Macau from a gambling pit stop for Chinese tourists to a vacation and business convention destination, where visitors shop, watch shows - and roll the dice.

"Today is the beginning of what has been a dream of mine for some time - to reproduce the capital of entertainment in Asia for Asians," Adelson said Tuesday at a news conference.
Macau's casinos are currently scattered across the territory, a peninsula connected to mainland China and two outlying islands by a reclaimed strip of land called Cotai.

Adelson said his Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Cotai is the cornerstone of what will become a concentrated resort area he calls the Cotai Strip.

Las Vegas Sands claims the 10.5 million square foot Venetian - twice the size of the Las Vegas original - is the largest building in Asia and the second largest in the world. Boeing Co. claims it has the world's largest building - a plant in Washington state.

The Venetian boasts what it claims to be the world's largest gaming space of 550,000 square feet, housing 3,400 slot machines - with room to expand to 6,000 - and more than 800 gambling tables.

It has 3,000 rooms, a 15,000-seat sports arena, retail space for 350 stores, 1.2 million square feet of convention space, fine dining and a Cirque du Soleil-produced show.

Its decor is Venice inspired - with a Chinese touch. Chinese-style sampans as well as gondolas will sail down canals. The resort also features a replica of Venice's St. Mark's Square.

Adelson also plans to open more hotels under brands such as Four Seasons, Sheraton and St. Regis. In all, his Las Vegas Sands Corp., which also runs the Sands Macao on the Macau peninsula, plans to invest up to $12 billion and build 20,000 hotel rooms on the Cotai Strip by 2010.

Some analysts say Adelson is smart in trying to lure new tourists to Macau. The convention business - a specialty of the Las Vegas Sands - is a lucrative one, they say.

"The Venetian will get new customers who are right now not going to Macau at all," analyst Billy Ng at JPMorgan Securities said.

Las Vegas Sands President William Weidner said 44 major conventions have already been scheduled at the Venetian over the next two years.

He also said he expects the Venetian Macao to lengthen the average guest stay to three to four days, from 1.2 days in other Macau hotels.

But it may take time to make Macau a major tourist destination.

Rob Hart at Morgan Stanley said Macau will never be Las Vegas.

"It's going to be slow transition ... it's never going to happen to the same extent," Hart said.

Bollywood Actress Aishwarya Bachchan on Madame Tussaud Museum

The New York branch of Madame Tussaud's is all set to welcome a special guest on India's Independence Day and it’s none other than actor Aishwarya Rai’s (bachchan) wax statue, who's on loan from Madame Tussaud's London for six weeks.

It took three days for the New York staff to get her wax figure ready for display after it was shipped from London.

As finishing touches were being applied a day before the unveiling, the museum has already heard from eager fans in the US.

“It’s very exciting. We have already started to hear from fans anxious to see Aishwarya Rai, knowing that she is only here for a limited time. So, they want to come within the next couple of weeks just to make sure they get a glimpse of Mrs Aaiswarya bachchan,” Marketing Director, Madame Tussaud's New York, Rosemary A Preta said.

Mahatma Gandhi has been the only Indian figure on display until now at Madame Tussaud's New York. The museum expects to add to its Indian collection after seeing the enthusiastic response to the Aishwarya Rai display.

On August 15, Aishwarya’s wax figure will be unveiled, fittingly enough, with a lot of song and dance – a group of Bollywood actress and dancers will escort Ash to her temporary digs in the Big Apple.

"@" Name - Chinese couple applied for her baby.

A Chinese couple tried to name their baby "@", claiming the character used in e-mail addresses echoed their love for the child, an official trying to whip the national language into line said on Thursday.

The unusual name stands out especially in Chinese, which has no alphabet and instead uses tens of thousands of multi-stroke characters to represent words.

"The whole world uses it to write e-mail, and translated into Chinese it means 'love him'," the father explained, according to the deputy chief of the State Language Commission Li Yuming.
While the "@" simple is familiar to Chinese e-mail users, they often use the English word "at" to sound it out -- which with a drawn out "T" sounds something like "ai ta", or "love him", to Mandarin speakers.

Li told a news conference on the state of the language that the name was an extreme example of people's increasingly adventurous approach to Chinese, as commercialisation and the Internet break down conventions.

Another couple tried to give their child a name that rendered into English sounds like "King Osrina."

Li did not say if officials accepted the "@" name. But earlier this year the government announced a ban on names using Arabic numerals, foreign languages and symbols that do not belong to Chinese minority languages.

Sixty million Chinese faced the problem that their names use ancient characters so obscure that computers cannot recognise them and even fluent speakers were left scratching their heads, said Li, according to a transcript of the briefing on the government Web site One of them was the former Premier Zhu Rongji, whose name had a rare "rong" character that gave newspaper editors headaches.

Bruce Lee Car licence plate sells for US$5,100

A Bruce Lee fan has splashed out 40,000 Hong Kong dollars (5,100 US dollars) on a car licence plate bearing the name of the legendary martial arts film star, local media reported Sunday.
The "BRUCELEE" licence plate was sold at an auction by the Hong Kong transport department, the Sunday Morning Post reported.

The bidder said he would have paid up to one million Hong Kong dollars for the plate, but would consult with Lee's widow before deciding what to do with it, according to the report.

"When I studied in Britain, I saw that foreigners only knew Bruce Lee and chairman Mao Zedong," the man, identified only as Mr Wong, said after Saturday's auction.

"Bruce Lee was great and he contributed a lot to China. He has influenced people from a few generations and his influence can still be felt today."

Lee was born in the United States but his fame grew from Hong Kong where he made movies including "Fist of Fury" on his way to worldwide superstardom.

The actor, who died at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973, helped to popularise martial arts in the West and opened the door to Hollywood fame for other Asian stars such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li.


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