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Aria President Looks Forward to Opening

Aria sits in the middle of CityCenter and will employ 75-percent of all the people working at the $8.5 billion resort.

The man responsible for building and running the 4,000 room hotel-casino says the project has been added to the must-see list for all tourists coming to Las Vegas.

"Everybody who is coming to Vegas is going to come see CityCenter. We will have an opportunity to touch almost the whole Las Vegas marketplace," said Aria President Bill McBeath.

Those are potential customers McBeath says MGM Mirage will not lose. He told the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board that history has proven critics wrong when they say a new mega-resort is too big or too expensive, just like when the Mirage and Bellagio opened.

"We believe that it represents the revitalization of Las Vegas and it's going to give the consumer a reason to come back," he said.

Attracting new customers is the key according to McBeath.

Las Vegas Men Sell New Poker Idea

A Las Vegas man and his childhood friend says growing up in the valley helped them invent a new video poker game and strike a deal with slot maker IGT.

It's called Second Chance Royal Poker. It's like any other video poker game, except if you miss the royal flush by one card, you get a free second chance to draw that last card again.

Thirty-one-year-old Jeremy Zarowitz and his childhood friend invented the game. “W e would sneak out to the 7-11 when we were like 14 – 15-years-old until they kicked us out. People growing up in other places don't have that kind of exposure to video poker,” he said.

Cracking Down on Smut Peddlers?

LAS VEGAS, Nv -- When large groups of people crowd into a small area, you will find advertisers pushing their products. In Las Vegas, sometimes that means selling sex. Freedom of speech protects these peddlers, allowing them to stand on the public sidewalk handing out cards promoting an escort or exotic dancer to your room.

Harrah's Senior Vice President and former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones says the tactics have become more than just handing out cards. “There could be 40 to 50 distributors of this literature standing in the middle of the sidewalk, from my point of view, harassing our visitors,” she said.

The hotels have wanted them off the sidewalks for more than a decade. The American Civil Liberties Union says anyone has the right to be on the sidewalk and the peddlers are exercising their freedom of speech. Repeated court decisions over the past 10 years back that up.

MGM CityCenter Unveiled with 'Sneak Peak'

LAS VEGAS -- From I-15, you can see just how big CityCenter is. But when you are standing right next to the buildings, the only word to describe it is enormous.

MGM Mirage officials didn't allow cameras inside of the buildings, but 8 News Now Reporter Melissa Duran was taken inside the Aria resort. It's definitely a luxury resort with a modern feel.

MGM Mirage officials say they're right on track to open. “There's a lot of cleaning that has to be done -- construction. You build things that are new and fresh but usually there is a little dust left behind, so there's cleaning, some final landscaping both inside and outside. So we are down to the things that we ought to be down to at this point. It's going to be very exciting,” said Alan Feldman with MGM Mirage.

SLIDESHOW: Pictures of MGM CityCenter

Casinos Expected to be Slow to Rebound

U.S. commercial casinos took in $7.94 billion in revenue during the third quarter, 5.5-percent less than a year earlier, the head of the American Gaming Association said Tuesday.

Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., president and CEO of the industry group, said that while economists believe the country is moving beyond one of the worst recessions in history, that's not a practical reality for many casinos or their customers.

"Main Street is still feeling the heart, in fact, of the economic downturn," Fahrenkopf said. "The same has to be said very clearly for the gaming industry.

Nevada Regulators Recommend Casino License for Aria

The head of MGM Mirage says CityCenter will be the catalyst that turns the Las Vegas economy around. He made the statement after the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved a gaming license for Aria, a 4,000-room hotel-casino at the heart of the project.

CityCenter is a 50-50 partnership between MGM Mirage and Dubai World. That means representatives from both sides had to face gaming regulators Friday.

Jim Murren now runs MGM Mirage. He says CityCenter’s opening boils down to one thing. “Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. This is the biggest job creator in the country, right now -- 12,000 jobs in one shot,” he said.

Nine thousand job offers have been extended. So far, 95-percent of those people accepted. All of them are banking on the Gaming Control Board's approval of a non-restricted gaming license for Aria Hotel and Casino, the central focal point of CityCenter.

Casino Earnings Down in September

State gambling regulators say September was another down month for a crucial state index of financial health.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Tuesday that casinos in the state won $911 million from gamblers during the month. That's a nearly 9 percent decrease compared with the same month in 2008.

September became the 21st month in a row of year-over-year declines in casino winnings. Regulators say the state collected $54.3 million in taxes last month based on the September revenues. That's a nearly 14.6 percent decrease from the same month a year ago. Revenue from gambling wagers make up about 30 percent of the state general fund.

Nevada has been particularly hard hit by the recession as gamblers pull back on discretionary spending.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)