But Las Vegas Sands is also working hard across the Pacific. Its Sands Macao Casino opened in May in the former Portuguese colony, which is the only area in China that permits casino gambling. The company also plans to build a Macao version of the Venetian by 2008 for $1.8 billion.

Its Macao business also makes it a close competitor with casino tycoon Steve Wynn's Wynn Resorts ( WYNN). In addition to a high-end Las Vegas casino expected to open early next year, Wynn plans to build a Macao casino in 2007.

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