LAS VEGAS - Wynn Resorts Ltd.'s chief exec, Steve Wynn, says his swanky $2.3 billion Encore casino - which he opened yesterday in a market that's battering casino, travel and other consumer companies - is about perfecting the basics.

"Better service, nicer rooms, better lighting," Wynn told the Associated Press. "Themes that are corny get old quickly, but real and wonderful environments with great service are timeless."

Even if visitors think the Encore delivers on that promise, however, Wynn will have to keep prices low to keep people booking its 2,034 suites. That's because, while Wynn is doing well, Las Vegas is not.

MGM Mirage Inc., which owns 10 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, has laid off about 3,200 workers here since October 2007. Harrah's Entertainment has cut 1,800 workers since January.

The 5,000 new jobs at the resort, although 300 short of the number announced in July, were eagerly awaited.

Some 100,000 people applied for the positions, company officials have said.

Encore's opening is sending unwelcome ripples through the gambling market in Las Vegas. Wynn, known for shaking up Sin City one casino at a time, is doing it this time by lowering rates so he can keep visitors coming in the short term.

He said he has booked 60,000 room-nights since dropping rates last week at Encore and Wynn Las Vegas next door. "I want Encore filled and Wynn, and I'm sorry to everybody," Wynn said.

He said he would raise rates as the rooms fill, to get as close to 95 percent as possible. Five percent of rooms, he said, are usually saved for high-rollers.

Weeknights, a standard 700-square-foot suite at Encore is going for $159 in January, according to Encore's Web site, with higher prices on weekends. That's down from rates easily $200 or more. *