Video: Las Vegas' big gamble

  1. Closed captioning of: Las Vegas' big gamble

    >>> we're back now with the opening of what one writer has called the biggest thing to hit las vegas since the slot machine . we will see about that. but this thing is a city within a city. it's enormous. it's over the top . it is meant to be much more than just another casino resort in vegas . as our own chris jansing reports, city center , on the famous vegas strip , is a huge gamble on the american economy .

    >> reporter: even by las vegas standards, opening an $8.5 billion development in a middle of a recession is a very high-stakes play. the new city center is a 67-acre, 6 tower colass. hotels, residences, luxury towers and a casino five years in the making.

    >> when they conceived of it, it was a gamble. now it's a real gamble.

    >> reporter: it's the development that almost wasn't. 50% owned by dubai world . that company went $60 billion in debt when the commercial real estate market tanked. the other developer, mgm vegas mirage has nine more buildings and nearly went bankrupt. as recently as april they came within half hour of abandoning the experiment. but mgm wagered on the economic recovery and kept building.

    >> housing, tourism, travel. it's been a perfect storm of thing that's hurt our community. they realize, if we don't do this, who can? if we don't do this, who will?

    >> reporter: it's vegas reinventing itself yet again. no pyramids, castles and/or eiffel towers. you get the scenes of being an awful clean, unidentified metropolis. all shiny high-rises. it's worked before. when vegas went beyond casinos to retail restaurants and casinos, it grew. but this is unprecedented.

    >> and other companies take changes and that's what mgm mirage

updated 12/3/2009 11:48:38 AM ET 2009-12-03T16:48:38

More than a half-million square feet of shops, restaurant and entertainment are opening to the public at the CityCenter casino complex in Las Vegas.

The Crystals retail mall opens Thursday afternoon as the second element of the $8.5 billion development being unveiled to the public this month.

Crystals includes luxury retailers including Tiffany and Louis Vuitton, and restaurants by Todd English, Wolfgang Puck and actress Eva Longoria.

Owners MGM Mirage and Dubai World opened the first part of CityCenter on Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting for Vdara, a 1,500-room boutique condominium-hotel.

The anchor of CityCenter is the 4,004-room Aria Resort & Casino, opening Dec. 16.

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