Will Cosmopolitan opening boost or bust Vegas?

cosmopolitan-opening-las-vegasAccording to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Nevada’s gaming revenues are expected to at least start to recover by late 2011, but it will be 2014 before Sin City returns to its pre-recession glories. Current numbers would seem to back up this assertion. Las Vegas Strip gambling revenue got a 16% year-on-year boost in October, which was 2.8% up from September, and marks a 5.4% overall gain in the first 10 months of 2010. Of course, considering how dire 2009 was, anything but an increase in business would have been catastrophic.

Execs at the new Cosmopolitan resort hotel will be praying this upward trend continues. The Cosmopolitan, which opens Wednesday, will add 3,000 rooms (2k now, 1k in another year) to the town’s existing (and excess) capacity. Competitors are worried this will add momentum to another recent trend in Vegas — the average daily room rate is currently around $95, compared to $132 in 2007. Perhaps there’s a hidden message in the Cosmo’s latest commercial pitch – ‘just the right amount of wrong.’

Despite the town’s recent dependence on baccarat to drive its gaming profits, the Cosmopolitan will only have a few baccarat tables when its gaming facilities open. Cosmo spokespeople claim the gaming side will ‘adapt to its customers.’ Speaking of, CEO John Unwin is pitching his property as a destination for the ‘curious class’ – what he claims are the estimated 59m Americans who view most Vegas resorts as catering to something beneath their artsy, educated selves. Well, aren’t we special…

Unwin also likes to point out that while his property is surrounded by complexes owned by MGM and Caesars, the Cosmo is “not part of some big corporation.” Which is technically true, as Cosmo is owned by Deutsche Bank, who took over the project when the original developer went bust, but are now looking to sell the property (perhaps to some big corporation) if and when the market improves. Our helpful suggestion? Dismantle the joint brick by brick, and ship it to Macau or Singapore. Now… Where’s our $10m consulting fee?