The hotel, however, did not officially open until nearly three weeks later, at 12.30am on 4 May. Key parts of the hotel, including the "high roller" suites on the top floors of the tower, were not ready by this time. A final occupancy permit for the entire building was not issued until 12 November of that year.
The delay sparked the hotel's owner, Sheldon Adelson, to claim that the opening celebration had been ruined and the company's reputation damaged. The proprietor said that actress Sophia Loren had been forced to stay at another hotel when she arrived to stay at the Venetian for its opening night bonanza.
The dispute led to tit-for-tat legal proceedings by Bovis, which was on the verge of leaving parent company P&O at the time, and its client. The Venetian hotel filed a writ with Bovis for more than £30m in the summer of 1999, claiming "rising costs and poor quality". Bovis countersued the same month before a temporary truce was called in August of that year. The then-Bovis chairman Sir Frank Lampl flew out to Las Vegas to join chief executive Luther Cochrane to attempt to strike a deal with Venetian owner Adelson.
The truce only delayed court proceedings, however. The resulting battle over liability for the delay and extra construction costs finally started in the summer of 2002 and lasted nearly a year.
At the start of the case, more than 250 prospective jurors were interviewed and a panel of 20 appointed, none knowing which eight would be selected to make the final decision. Under US civil law, only three-quarters of the jury – six in this case – need to agree for a verdict to be reached.
In court, Bovis contended that the Venetian's management was to blame for the delays that led to the late opening of the hotel because it presented hundreds of change orders late in the construction process. The court heard that as the opening date neared, Venetian officials had swamped the builders with a mass of changes to the hotel, numbering about 1000 in a month.
Lawyers for the Venetian responded that the change orders were commonplace in the fast-paced world of hotel construction, and claimed that Bovis simply wasn't up to the job. The owner had calculated lost profits of £46m from the opening delays alone.
There have also been 110 separate claims from subcontractors surrounding the case, totalling more than £185m. Some have been adjudicated, but others are still in dispute and have been awaiting the outcome of the main proceedings.
The case was finally decided by the Las Vegas courts on Tuesday in Bovis' favour.