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Gambling License Granted for Cosmopolitan in Vegas | Gaming News

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Gambling License Granted for Cosmopolitan in Vegas
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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Nevada gambling regulators on Thursday approved a gambling license for the $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel-casino, clearing a path for what's expected to be the last new Las Vegas Strip casino for a while.

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the resort after an hourlong presentation that included questions for executives of the property and its owner, Deutsche Bank AG. The German lender picked up the property in August 2008 for $1 billion after its original developers entered foreclosure.

The nearly 3,000-room resort on 8 1/2 acres can now open as planned Dec. 15 with a 100,000-square-foot casino, including 1,500 slot machines and 83 table games.

Regulators questioned executives about the Cosmopolitan's condominium plans, the structure of Deutsche Bank's corporate role in the project and its high expectations for profitability presented to the commission.

"I think they are at the high end of the spectrum but they certainly are achievable," said Cosmopolitan CEO John Unwin. "A number of things have to go right."

Things haven't gone well for the state's gambling industry for more than two years, with gambling revenues along the Strip falling 10.6 percent in 2008 and more than 9 percent in 2009. Revenue is up 2.2 percent for the first seven months this year, but many analysts have warned that a full turnaround is not likely to come quickly.

Jeffrey Burge, the Cosmopolitan's chief financial officer, said the project thinks its location, marketing to luxury customers and partnership with Marriott International Inc. would help the resort draw customers.

"We will, of course, rely to some degree on recovery in the overall economy," he said.

Jeffrey Baer, Deutsche Bank's head of global logistics services and part of the board created to manage the Cosmopolitan, said a lawsuit in Los Angeles brought by condominium buyers alleging fraud is still pending.

"We believe those claims are without merit and are vigorously contesting them," Baer said.

The lawsuit accuses the developer of "capitalizing on the recession" by delaying construction, then "stonewalling" condo buyers while scrapping plans for some 2,000 condominiums.

Baer said the Cosmopolitan has 216 condominiums under contract.

He said 50 buyers are not in litigation and are in the process of closing on their units. The rest would be delivered unless there's a settlement with the lawsuit, Baer told the commission.

The resort will open two weeks before a New Year's Eve bash with a concert by superstars Jay-Z and Coldplay. Roughly one-third of the resort's hotel rooms won't be ready for occupancy until July.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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