Thursday, June 20, 1996 | 6 a.m.
The Monte Carlo hotel-casino opens to the public shortly after midnight following a preview party and fireworks show for more than 1,000 invited guests tonight.
The $344 million resort, a joint venture between Mirage Resorts Inc. and Circus Circus Enterprises Inc., is aimed at middle-income tourists eager to sample European elegance at budget prices.
Room rates of $60 weekdays and $100 on weekends have helped Monte Carlo pre-book most of the resort's 3,014 guest rooms through the end of 1996, officials said.
Monte Carlo won't cater only to tourists, they said. Its showroom and restaurants will be priced to attract area residents, as will high-payout slot machines and a 550-seat bingo parlor.
Modeled after the Place du Casino in Europe's premier gaming locale, the Las Vegas Monte Carlo evokes the Belle Epoque architecture of the late 19th century.
Massive chandeliers grace the 90,000-square-foot casino, while marble floors, ornate fountains and gas-lighted promenades are featured throughout.
The casino houses 2,200 slot machines and 95 table games, a high-limit gaming area, a race and sports book, poker and keno games and lounge areas.
The resort, which employs 3,200, includes shops set in a Victorian-style town square, a pool designed as a water park and a 1,200-seat replica of a vaudeville theater where illusionist Lance Burton will perform.
The theater was designed especially for Burton, who has performed at the Hacienda since 1991. Twice named Magician of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts, Burton signed a 13-year contract with Monte Carlo.
How about food? There are six themed restaurants: the Market City Cafe featuring Italian cuisine, the Dragon Noodle Company's Asian fare, a 250-seat steakhouse, a 24-hour coffee shop, a Golden Bagel Deli and a 700-seat buffet decorated with a Moroccan theme.
The Monte Carlo Brewery Pub will offer its own beers, as well as a range of British and American ales, stouts and creams. A 210-seat food court will include Haagen Daz, McDonald's, Nathan's and Sbarro's outlets.
Monte Carlo is the second of three mega-resorts opening in Las Vegas this year, continuing the latest phase of expansion that began with the opening of the Stratosphere hotel-casino in April.
Later this year, New York-New York -- a joint venture between MGM Grand Inc. and Primadonna Resorts Inc. -- is expected to open next door to Monte Carlo at the Strip and Tropicana Avenue.
Together, the trio will add nearly 8,000 rooms to the Las Vegas inventory. Other resorts planned or under construction may add 20,000 more by the end of the century.
One of those -- Mirage Resorts' Bellagio -- will be connected to Monte Carlo by a monorail when it opens in 1998. Bellagio will aim at the high end of the gaming and leisure markets, with daily room rates of $250 and higher.
Monte Carlo sits on 44 acres contributed by Mirage. Circus designed the resort and will operate it. The two companies put up about $67 million each in cash and other equity, and set up a $210 million credit line with a bank consortium to finance construction.
As expected, the Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to issue Monte Carlo's gaming license.
Chairman Bill Curran praised Circus and Mirage officials for their "vision and leadership. We're overwhelmed by what you have accomplished."
Circus President Glenn Schaeffer was similarly upbeat. "This project unites Circus Circus and Mirage, inventors of the mega-resort in Las Vegas, for the next must-see attraction in gaming,
"Monte Carlo will aim for the mass-market player and tourist, with our distinction being the experience of royalty for a value price."