Las Vegas Helps Ring in Year of the Rabbit - 8 News NOW

Las Vegas Helps Ring in Year of the Rabbit

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LAS VEGAS -- People across Asia rang in the year of the rabbit Thursday. Chinese New Year is one of most important festivities for many Asians and Las Vegas is cashing in on the celebration.

The year of the rabbit is associated with tranquility but in the Las Vegas valley the holiday is anything but tranquil. Casinos have decorated to welcome the thousands of expected Asian tourists in for the holiday weekend.

The general manager at the Palace Station, Mike Jerlecki, says the Chinese New Year is such a big money maker for them; he has the date marked on his calendar every year.

"We have over a thousand hotel rooms here at Palace. So, throughout the next three to four days, it's going to be a very busy place," said Jerlecki.

Many casinos are reporting a spike in room occupancy and gaming revenue at the tables. Jerlecki says business at his Pai Gow and Baccarat tables will increase anywhere from 20 to 50 percent. the same goes for the Venetian. They have decorated their lobby with gold coins and a giant rabbit.

Tourists Theresa and Steve Sakahara arrived in Las Vegas Thursday and got a first hand look at the decorations. "It doesn't surprise us because we know that a lot of Asians come to Las Vegas and spend a lot of money here. It pays for the casinos to cater to the Asians," said Theresa Sakahara.

Many casinos have already seen busloads of Asian tourists from California. There are also a lot of visitors in Chinatown, off of Spring Mountain Rd. to shop and go to restaurants.

Several casinos tell 8 News NOW they have brought in more dealers fluent in Mandarin to get ready for the influx of Asian tourists.

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