The Mirage in Las Vegas is considered to be the world’s first casino mega resort. When it opened in 1989, at a cost of $630 million, it became the most expensive casino to design and build in the world as well as one of the biggest hotels ever built. The Mirage was an incredible success, showing that casino operators could diversify their revenue streams through hotels, entertainment and fine dining to keep the money flowing. The Mirage’s competitors took note, and soon they were building their own mega-resorts. Each new mega resort was trying to out-do their rivals by being bigger, better and, of course, more expensive.
The race to being seen as the biggest and the best was not be confined to Las Vegas, with operators in Asia following suit as the 21st century began. Our list of the ten most expensive casinos to design and build in the world has entries from Macau, Singapore and, of course, Las Vegas.
#1 Aria Campus, Las Vegas (cost $8.5 billion)
Previously known as CityCenter Las Vegas, the Aria Campus in Las Vegas is the most expensive casino to design and build in the world. MGM Resorts footed the $8.5 billion bill to build this “city within a city” on the Vegas strip. In fact, not only is this project the most expensive casino in the world, but it was also the largest privately funded construction project in the history of the USA. So, what does £8.5billion get you in Vegas? Well, quite a lot!
The mammoth, 1.7 million square meter complex comprises both the Vdara and Aria hotels. The gaming space is mostly located at the Aria Casino. Here you are going to find almost 2,000 slot machines, 145 table games and one of the best Poker experiences in Vegas. There are 24 different tables set aside for different types of poker action. Limits, no limits, Omaha and 7-card are all accounted for here. While the high limit games may be too costly for most, some of the entertainment on offer on this casino floor has a minimum bet of just one cent, allowing all budgets to get a taste of the action!
Outside of the gaming area you are going to find upmarket boutique shopping, over 4,000 hotel rooms, 19 different dining options and 215,000 square feet dedicated to the all-important pool area. All this is amongst the usual Vegas fare of high profile residencies, concerts and luxury spas. The Vdara even offers a boutique doggy hotel for those who can’t leave their pampered pooch behind!
#2 Marina Bay Sands, Singapore (cost $6.8 billion)
Over the last decade, Singapore has emerged as a leading tourist destination. This is in no small part thanks to the Marina Bay Sands development. The iconic resort ushered in a new era of tourism in the city-state, with around nineteen million people visiting it annually to gamble, relax or simply to gawk at the splendour.
The Marina Bay Sands is the most expensive casino in Asia, and hosts a spectacular, four level gaming area covering 15,000 square meters. Across the gaming floor you are going to find more than 2,300 slot machines offering both classic and progressive jackpots. Added to that are over 600 table games, with different varieties of poker, baccarat, blackjack and poker. In addition to the casino, the resort also offers 2,500 hotel rooms, a convention center, rooftop swimming pools and other entertainment options. The revenue of the resort is thought to be around $2 billion a year – almost making the $6.8 billion invested sound like a bargain!
#3 Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore (cost $5.2 billion)
The second most expensive casino in Singapore, and the third most expensive casino to design and build in the world, is the Resorts World Sentosa. Owners, Genting, have been growing rapidly since they opened in the only casino in Malaysia in 1971, and the Singapore addition to their line-up is nothing short of spectacular. As one may expect from Genting, Resorts World Sentosa offers more than just casino floors. Present here on the 49-hectare site are Universal Studios, Hard Rock Hotel, beach villas, Michelin star dining, theatres and one of the biggest aquariums in the world!
That’s not to say the casino has been neglected – far from it! In fact, the gaming area here measures up to anything else on this list! The gaming floor manages to packs in an impressive 2,400 slot machines and 500 table games across its 15,000 square metres.
#4 Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort (cost $5 billion)
Wynn Las Vegas, known as The Wynn, opened in 2005 and immediately became the most expensive casino hotel ever built at $2.7 billion. Not only that, its 45-storey hotel tower became the tallest building in the entire state of Nevada! The casino floor is impressive here, as its 10,000 sq. meter space is occupied by 1,000 slot machines and 128 table games.
The Wynn was already huge (and expensive), but the developers decided that it wasn’t quite grand enough so they added the Encore to the resort at a cost of $2.3billion. This took the total cost of the “mega resort” to $5 billion. The addition of The Encore also added 6,700 sq. meters of gaming space to the development, along with an additional 850 slots and 110 table games.
The Wynn is also the only resort in Vegas to offer a full, 18-hole golf course. “Golf at The Wynn” was designed with the extravagance that you may expect when it comes to Vegas, with the 18th hole even having a 36-foot-tall waterfall!
#5 Resorts World, Las Vegas (cost $4.3 billion)
When Resorts World Vegas opened its doors in 2021 it immediately became the second most expensive casino to ever be built in Las Vegas. Perhaps more important than that is the fact that it also became the first new resort to be built on the Vegas strip for over a decade! The construction industry in Sin City has suffered since the Great Recession of 2008, and many projects have fallen by the wayside. There is a hope that if Genting make a success out of their massive investment, then more investment could follow.
The resort itself has everything that we have come to expect from a Resorts World destination, including three different tiers of accommodation, incredible entertainment spaces and a vast casino floor. What makes this casino interesting is that it may well be the very first “smart” casino in the country. Cashless betting is available by loading deposits on to the resort’s app, which dealers can scan to give you chips. Given that Resorts World stands on the site of the iconic Stardust, there is a sense that this state-of-the-art development is ushering in a new era on the strip.
#6 Wynn Palace, Macau (cost $4.1 billion)
Following on from the success of their Wynn Macau project, Wynn resorts opened the Wynn Palace in 2016. Coming in at $4.1 billion, the Wynn Palace remains the most expensive casino building in Macau. At the heart of the luxury resort is a mammoth casino floor measuring some 39,400 sq. metres! Spread out over this vast space are over 500 gaming tables, 375 slots and a selection of shops and eateries.
While the building already boasts a 28-floor hotel with 1,706 rooms, there are plans to grow! In 2019 plans were approved for a further two hotel towers complete with 650 rooms each. This expansion is expected to cost more than $2 billion, which would make the resort the second most expensive resort on our list when it completes.
#7 The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas (cost $3.9 billion)
Nestled between the Aria Campus and The Bellagio is the seventh most expensive casino in the world, The Cosmopolitan. The Cosmopolitan, or The Cosmo as it has come to be known, is one of the most stylish destinations in Las Vegas. The Chandelier Bar is the best example of this. The stunning lounge, shaped like a huge, 3 storey high chandelier has become a Las Vegas icon. This, coupled with outside terraces that offer some of the best views in Vegas, means that the visitors here are often more inclined to soak in the atmosphere of their surroundings than hit the casino floor.
This is Vegas though, and of course there is still a large gaming area! Measuring around 9,000 sq. metres and hosting 1500 slots and 83 table games, the casino here is smaller than other resorts on this list. However, it is packaged with a style that is perhaps unmatched by any of its contemporaries.
#8 The Venetian, Macau (cost $2.4 billion)
The second biggest casino in the world, built by the most profitable casino company in the world, is also the eighth most expensive casino ever built. The investment was an almost immediate success as more than 3.9 million visitors flocked to the resort in its first eight weeks! Now The Venetian Macau, and its sister resort in Las Vegas, are undoubtedly two of the most iconic casino destinations in the world. With luxury shopping, fine dining and indoor gondoliers, the Macau resort is a tourist hotspot as well as a gaming haven.
With 51,000 sq. metres of gaming space, the casino floor is the biggest on our list and it comes well stocked! There are 3,400 slot machines, 340 table games and, perhaps most intriguingly, four distinctly themed gambling areas. The themes are Golden Fish, Phoenix, Imperial House and Red Dragon, and the influence of Chinese culture and mythology can be observed throughout.
#9 City of Dreams, Macau (cost $2.1 billion)
At the entrance to the entertainment area of Macau, the City of Dreams complex greats you. This behemoth development holds three casinos, four hotels and five hotel towers. It seems to have been built with one philosophy in mind; bigger is always better! This a true icon of Macau, and its success has begun something of a franchise as a City of Dreams has also opened in Manila, and another will soon open in Cyprus.
The gambling action takes place on a massive gaming area of more than 39,000 sq. meters, which hosts 1,514 slot machines and 450 table games. This is supplemented by Alain Ducasse restaurants, regular concerts and the stunning Sky Bridge on the 21st floor.
#10 The Bellagio, Las Vegas (cost $1.6 billion)
The Bellagio, the grandfather of our list, has a claim to be being one of the most recognisable buildings on the Vegas-strip, which is no mean feat! The distinctive building, and its famous fountains, are another entry on this list developed by Steve Wynn. Construction began back in 1996, a more innocent time when billion-dollar hotel projects were practically unheard of. Indeed, the $1.6 billion bill made The Bellagio the most expensive building in the world when it was completed – a title it held until The Wynn Vegas opened in 2005.
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