Malaysian firm says new Resorts World Las Vegas will open on former Stardust site in mid-2018

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LAS VEGAS — The developer of a sprawling Chinese-themed resort on the Las Vegas Strip said Tuesday that the long-awaited hotel-casino on the former site of the Stardust Hotel is expected to open by mid-2018.

K.T. Lim, chairman and CEO of Malaysia-based Genting Group, said the $4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas would showcase China's people and regions, both past and present.

After performances by traditional Chinese lion dancers and speeches in front of a large gathering of notable Nevada leaders and industry officials, Lim, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and other officials placed golden shovels into hard dirt at the 88-acre site next to Circus Circus, signaling the start of construction.

Genting Group, which has casino resorts on several continents, first promised a 2016 opening when it bought the site from Boyd Gaming in 2013 for $350 million.

The concrete bones of Boyd's partially built Echelon casino-hotel were the backdrop for the glittering confetti and golden shovels at Tuesday's groundbreaking. Construction of Echelon stopped in 2008 amid the economic downturn.

Plans for Resorts World Las Vegas include 3,500 rooms, an outdoor amphitheater and a possible panda habitat.

Casino mogul Steve Wynn, who attended the groundbreaking, called Lim a friend and regular at Wynn's casino-hotels.

"We love picking up a neighbor," he told The Associated Press as he left the event. Especially a well-capitalized and experienced neighbor like the Genting Group, Wynn said. Resorts World won't be far from his Wynn and Encore resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.

Wynn described Lim's goal of opening by mid-2018 as ambitious.

"He's got a lot of work to do," Wynn said.

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