Early spring for Wynn's floral-themed Macau casino
* Wynn Resorts reports slower Macau revenue growth on hotel renovations
* Shares rise after Steve Wynn says Cotai resort to open 2016, not 2017
* New Wynn Palace to feature gondolas, floral themes and moving bouquets
HONG KONG, July 30 (Reuters) - Gambling magnate Steve Wynn said he would open his first casino resort on Macau's prime Cotai strip earlier than expected in first-quarter 2016, sending shares in the Macau unit of his U.S. firm at least 3 percent higher despite lower quarterly earnings.
Wynn Macau, a unit of Wynn Resorts Ltd, has been losing market share to rivals Las Vegas Sands and Galaxy Entertainment because of its absence from the Vegas-style Cotai area.
Slower revenue growth in Macau due to hotel renovations led to lower-than-expected second-quarter earnings for Wynn Resorts Ltd, but founder Wynn said the company was committed expanding in the world's biggest casino market.
Analysts had expected the Cotai property to open by 2017.
"I feel sanguine and comfortable about being here and plan on being here a lot longer," Wynn told an earnings briefing.
The new resort, called the Wynn Palace, will be similar to Wynn's palatial Las Vegas property, the Bellagio, and will be fronted by a massive lake with a light-and-fire show, Wynn said. Guests will be ferried across the lake in an air-conditioned gondola.
Wynn set the property's budget at $4 billion, allaying investors fears of spiralling costs, and said the resort hoped to attract punters with moving floral sculptures, up to 12 metres wide, of carousel horses, peacocks and tigers.
"The theme of this hotel is flowers, floral things. The use of flowers, of water and natural light... has been taken to a new level for our company," Wynn said.
Macau, located on the heel of China's southern coast, is the only place in the country where casino gambling is legal, resulting in $38 billion in gaming revenues last year, more than six times that of the Las Vegas strip.
The Cotai strip of reclaimed land is currently the most popular gambling destination in Macau, with punters drawn to its lavish casinos that include Galaxy's gilded palace and the Cotai Central and the Venetian, owned by Sands.
Both Galaxy and Sands are rapidly expanding in the strip, and analysts said Wynn will continue to underperform its competitors until it also sets up resorts in the area.
Wynn Resorts Ltd said its second-quarter net revenues from Macau rose 2.6 percent year-on-year, slower than the 16.2 percent increase from its Las Vegas operations.
Adjusted property EBITDA in the second quarter of 2013 slipped 4 percent to $290.1 million versus analyst expectations of $300 million.
Wynn Macau is renovating 600 guestrooms in its existing Wynn Macau resort which led to a 5 percent reduction in the number of available rooms. The renovation is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.