Changing Landscape of Vegas – Mirage for Sale
It has been quite the couple of years for Las Vegas. On this roller coaster ride we have seen the complete closure of all of Nevada’s casinos during Covid, the very slow recovery afterward and lately a boom that includes record gaming revenue numbers and huge crowds everywhere.
During the same period of time huge ownership changes have happened on the Strip. To be fair some of this started pre-Covid with the splitting of casino operations and land at many popular casinos. We also saw billionaire long time casino owner Phil Ruffin expand his empire to include Circus Circus at the end of 2019.
Vegas After Re-Opening Has Seen Huge Changes
But post-Covid has been crazy. To start, Eldorado Resorts closed on their purchase of Caesars Entertainment and then immediately changed their name to Caesars Entertainment just to fool everyone. Same name different company. And that new company has anecdotally been cutting back a lot at all of their properties. Less staff, smaller drink pours, charging for bread at some restaurants, etc.
We have also seen 3 casinos open during Covid including Circa which I like a lot and did a full review of. My thoughts on Resorts World were a little more mixed, but there is no doubt it was nice to see a new $4.3 billion megaresort open in Vegas. Unfortunately the 3rd casino opening is Virgin Hotels which opened in the old Hard Rock space. It has been less successful overall, but I actually had a decent stay there despite the casino’s total lack of atmosphere and energy.
Vegas May Be Getting Back to “Normal”
While there are still numerous casinos closed from Covid including a number of local establishments, for the most part Vegas is getting back to “normal”. Or actually not really to normal because a lot of restaurants are now gone (don’t take them for granted) and the ones that are left have limited staff, are always booked and/or are terrible. You know these days if a place has wide open reservations it probably isn’t good. Such is life in Sin City though. At least my beloved Peppermill is still open even if it has limited hours and a crowd 100% of the time.
Ownership Changes Including A Massive Land Deal in the Works
As for land, there has been a huge deal in the works. Several years ago MGM Resorts spun off the land of many of their properties to a REIT called MGM Growth Properties. Caesars did a similar thing with many of their properties, selling land and buildings to VICI Properties. Now VICI Properties is buying MGM Growth Properties for $17.2 billion. Is your head spinning yet?
During this time we’ve seen a ton of casino sales as well. The San Manuel tribe swept in and bought Palms to mark their entry into the Vegas market. That casino should reopen in the first quarter of 2022 once they get their gaming license squared away. Another big sale was Venetian being sold off by Las Vegas Sands. I guess they need to change the name of their company since they will no longer own any casinos in Vegas once that fully closes.
In other news my beloved Tropicana sold to Bally’s Corporation, but Bally’s Las Vegas may be for sale in early 2022. We know Caesars is selling a property early next year with it likely being Bally’s or Planet Hollywood. And just across from Planet Hollywood another bombshell sale recently happened. Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is being split up (land/operations) with MGM Resorts buying the operations. Which brings me to the latest news.
Mirage Is For Sale – First Vegas Megaresort
This week MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle announced that MGM has started the process of selling Mirage. (Make sure to watch Mark and I discuss the sale and potential buyers in the video at the top of this post.) Mirage was once the flagship property of Mirage Resorts. Built in 1989 it is widely considered to be the first modern Vegas megaresort. It was conceived and built by controversial Vegas icon Steve Wynn who later went on to expand his company Mirage Resorts to include Treasure Island and Bellagio along with his original property Golden Nugget.
But MGM eventually gobbled up Mirage Resorts and those properties became part of the larger corporate bubble. Mirage was no longer anything more than a mid-tier property with a loose tropical theme and a geographical disconnect from the rest of the MGM owned properties. It hasn’t been neglected fully, but once its neighbor Treasure Island was sold to Phil Ruffin over a decade ago, it seemingly hasn’t been as big of a priority.
It’s been on other channels, but @MGMResortsIntl just released the letter from @billhornbuckle to employees of @TheMirageLV about the company planning to sell the Strip resort@TheNVIndy pic.twitter.com/bU4kcVxkcB
— Howard Stutz (@howardstutz) November 3, 2021
A new owner could do a lot to revitalize the legendary Mirage. Mirage sits on a ton of land and while that land is owned by MGM Growth Properties, the new operator would likely be able to develop the property in new ways. We could see the elimination of the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat to open up much more space plus there is a big chunk of Strip frontage currently occupied by a parking garage that I’m sure would be very useful to a new owner. Time will tell.
Mirage for Sale – Bottom Line
Las Vegas is changing rapidly and I do believe it is going through one of the city’s famous re-births. The landscape of ownership is changing dramatically and hopefully with it some fresh ideas will come to the city that is both unique and fantastic while also being annoying and oh so very corporate. Viva Las Vegas.
What do you think?