Relative newcomer Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) made a splash when its stock first began changing hands last December. Now that the IPO excitement has died down and that new-stock smell has faded, the company has lost some of its luster -- and more than a quarter of its market cap. This morning, it shed a little more of that value after posting first-quarter net income of just $7.1 million, a steep drop from the $49.9 million earned a year ago. Excluding a series of one-time items, though, adjusted earnings more than doubled to a record $103.1 million, or $0.29 per share, easily topping expectations.

Net revenues surged by nearly 70% to $403.8 million. Credit for the gain goes entirely to the new Sands Macau casino, as the company's flagship Las Vegas Venetian property delivered flat results. The Las Vegas Sands became the first U.S.-based company to hit the Chinese gaming enclave of Macau when its namesake casino first opened its doors there last May. During the quarter, the property reported EBITDAR -- earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, rent and other expenses -- of $67.8 million, on revenues of $175 million.

Banking heavily on continued growth in Macau, Las Vegas Sands has already begun construction of the Sands Macau Venetian Resort on the Cotai Strip -- a region billed as possibly being the next Las Vegas. Last year some 17 million visitors, including many Asian high-rollers, dropped more than $5 billion in casinos there. The $1.8 billion Venetian Macau will begin competing for a share of those revenues by 2007, though its rivals will include Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), which plans to open a Macau property by next September.

Speaking of Wynn, the company's new resort opened last week to great fanfare, becoming the Venetian's new neighbor on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. Owner Steve Wynn is renowned for raising the bar on luxury resorts. The legendary developer raised quite a few eyebrows when he opened the Mirage in 1989 -- the city's first mega-resort, complete with an indoor rain forest and an outdoor volcano. Wynn then outdid himself a decade later with the Bellagio, an upscale resort with a staggering $1.6 billion price tag. Its art collection alone cost more than many hotels.

Those properties now belong to MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM), which MGM Grand acquired when it merged with Mirage five years ago.

Now comes the Wynn Resort, a plush property built on the remains of the old Desert Inn. The new casino cost a jaw-dropping $2.7 billion to construct -- about $1 million per room. While having the Wynn Resort next door may make Sands shareholders a little nervous, each new development only seems to draw in a larger crowd for everyone.

Extra traffic can only help the Venetian's already solid results. Though overall revenues were flat, first-quarter table drop and slot handle both rose to record levels, and RevPAR (revenues per available room) climbed above $243 last month -- the highest in the property's history. With further expansion in Las Vegas, and possibly Singapore, Pennsylvania, and the U.K. as well, Las Vegas Sands' stock -- which is now trading at an all-time low -- is beginning to look like less of a gamble.

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Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter plans to visit both the Venetian and the Wynn Resort later this month. He owns none of the companies mentioned.