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Las Vegas Casino Death Watch

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Last updated: April 21, 2016

Recent News


Are you ready for Palms Station? Sale of the property for $312.5 million is set to close sometime during Q3. Of course, there are some open issues. One of these is what will happen to the current Palms employees and their labor contracts. Presumably the Palms slot club will be merged into Stations' Boarding Pass at some point, but on what time table?


From the "When it Rains it Pours" Department, it has been announced that Boyd Gaming is also buying Aliante Casino. The deal is expected to close sometime in Q3. This is bad news to local sports bettors, as Aliante was one of the few independent sports books left in Nevada. Of course, this presumes that it will be folded into the Boyd tent at some point, probably before the end of the year.


Derek Stevens, who already owns the Golden Gate, The D, and the Las Vegas Club is purchasing Fremont Street slot parlors Mermaids and La Bayou, as well as The Girls of Glitter Gulch topless joint. The RJ reports that Stevens will use the new properties to build another casino. Our speculation is that what is now Glitter Gulch and Mermaids will be folded into the Las Vegas Club parcel. Integrating La Bayou into something would be less straightforward, but it is adjacent to the Golden Gate. The sale is scheduled to close on June 27, so these places may not be open any longer than that.


Reuters reports that Boyd Gaming is on the verge of buying Cannery Casino Resorts. This would move the Cannery and Eastside Cannery under the Boyd label. How tightly Cannery operations would be merged into the Boyd brand, and when those changes would occur are open questions. Currently, the Cannery operates its own slot club, and the sports book gets its lines from the South Point. Stay tuned.


The RJ gives us an update on the Rivera implosions. Word is that the LVCVA has approved a demolition plan, and that plan affirms what we had previously reported: some demolition of the smaller building will begin Real Soon Now, and implosions of the Rivera Monte Carlo and Monaco towers will occur in June and August. It's planned to have the lot cleared by December 31 providing plenty of time for its use in March.


Steve Wynn is looking at expanding his eponymous casino. If he goes ahead with currently released plans, it's unclear whether the expansion would shut down the Wynn golf course. However, the current proposal does include 1000 new rooms, would cost about $1.5 billion, and involves the creation of a 38 acre "lagoon". This all seems plausible to us, and Wynn has a history both of being pretty on top of things when it comes to picking appropriate times for expansions of his Las Vegas properties, as well as a reputation for not floating these sort of proposals and then not following through.

Our big question though, is about this lagoon. As we recall, by definition, a lagoon is a body of (salt) water separated from a larger body of water by a reef or some other barrier. So... what's the larger body of water? We're guessing what Wynn really means is that he plans to build a 38 acre lake, but we suppose that doesn't sound as glamorous, and it's been done.


Why settle for just one implosion when we can have two? A representative for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Authority said, "It's just too big to do all at once." The timetable sounds like this: The approval of the demolition contract will happen sometime in April. Some time after this, some demolition will start, making progress on the shorter buildings. Sometime in June, one hotel tower will be imploded, and sometime in August, the other one will come down. The whole site is planned to be cleared and at least grated so it can be used for the ConExpo-Con/Agg trade show beginning on March 7, 2017, where the lot will display all kinds of cool construction equipment, making the site look like the world's luckiest child's sandbox. Stay tuned for updates.


It's not conventionally casino news, but long time Reivew-Journal gambling beat reporter Howard Stutz is leaving the newspaper to take a position with a local law firm. Stutz has done a fantastic job of covering the industry over the years, and his inciteful reporting and commentary will be sorely missed. We here at the Death Watch wish him well in his new endeavor.


KLAS-TV reports that the Fontainebleau will be sold soon. They buyer is undisclosed, and, consequently, nobody knows what will become of it. Rumor is that the selling price may be in the neighborhood of $650 million, which would represent a tidy profit for current owner Carl Icahn. Of course all of this is unverified, so we'll see if this unfolds over the next 60 days, as the report suggests, but in the mean time it's the most substantial piece of information we have about this place in years.


Stuff is actually happening at the former New Frontier site. Not a lot of stuff, yet, but there are reasons to believe that whatever plans new owner James Packer has for that parcel is about to get under way. Apparently, the project will be a casino-hotel called "Alon Las Vegas", and we'll hear an announcement as to what this will actually look like sometime early next year. True construction hasn't started yet, all they're doing now is preparing the site, so we don't want to get too excited yet, but it's nice that the local economy has recovered to the point that serious people are at least thinking about building again.


We have a little more information on a pending Riviera implosion, not a lot more, but a little. The current timeline calls for demolition in three phases, occurring "by spring" of 2016. Elsewhere in the article, Rich Velotta indicates that the pre-demolition work would be completed by spring, and the actual demolotion would occur "shortly after that." The schedule is obviously very fluid at the present time. It has also not been decided whether an implosion is necessary. Just speculating here, but right now it's our guess that an implosion would be the most efficient way to topple the property's 23 story Monaco tower, as well as the parking garage, but it certainly may make sense to use less spectacular means to take down some of the other buildings on site. Stay tuned.


Sam Nazarian is selling his ownership stake in SLS Las Vegas, and his company, SBE Entertainment Group, will move from managing the property to a licensing agreement. SLS is losing money at breakneck speeds, but we don't think this is the solution. Unfortunately, we don't know what the solution is, but someone needs to stop the bleeding, or at least slow it way down, and soon.


Casino Closing: Las Vegas Club Well, that was fast. The Las Vegas Club is scheduled to close Wednesday at midnight. As it turns out, the Stevens brothers didn't acquire the name or any gaming assets. So, if or when the property is refurbished and reopened, it will be under a different name.


Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of the D Las Vegas and co-owners of the Golden Gate, have purchasaed the Las Vegas Club from the Tamares Group. Once this sale goes through, a process we expect to be quick and smooth, it sounds like the Las Vegas Club will be closed for renovations. However, in the long term, this is probably good news for downtown Las Vegas, as the current operation of the Las Vegas Club with no restaurants, no hotel rooms open, and a greatly curtailed casino floor, has been a shadow of its former self. The Stevens' have demostrated that they can refurbish a casino operation and draw crowds. No word on whether they plan to keep or change the name.


We may not have a date, but we have some information about a pending Riviera implosion. Any implosion will not occur any sooner than six months from now, putting the earliest an implosion might occur in mid-February, 2016. Also, while a plan for the demolition has not been determined, the current guess is that the hotel towers would be imploded while the casino buliding itself would be conventionally demolished.


Changes are coming to MGM Resorts. There are two of interest to Death Watch readers. The first has been rumored for a while, that there is some interest by outside buyers in the Mirage. While MGM denies it is being shopped, we don't doubt that property would be available for the right price, and there may have been some recent interest. Second, about the renovations planned for the Monte Carlo, CEO Jim Murren says "a name change is almost a certainty." So, your Monte Carlo merchandise is about to become collectable. No mention on what the new name might be.


So, how's SLS doing? Howard Stutz tells us in the RJ. The answer: Not well, so far. They're losing money, have no walk-in traffic, and have no expectation of anything beneficial happening in that neighborhood for years. The unasked question is how much money can SLS lose and for how long before something gives?


Fortune has a pretty decent article about the Caesars bankruptcy. It explains a number of things not well covered in other sources, such as the specific arguments and maneuverings of the senior and junior creditors, how actual ownership is structured, and it provides some information from which we can infer why the stock price hasn't completely cratered. It's a bit more friendly to the money movers than many will think is objectively fair, but, hey, it's Fortune. Those are their home boys. If your viewpoint is, "Caesars is evil, Loveman should be in jail," don't bother reading it. If you're interested in a more nuanced and detailed look at what's going on, even if it may not be 100% objective, it's well worth a read.


The VegasInc reports that MGM may rename and upgrade the Monte Carlo. We don't get a lot of details, including how extensive these changes might be, when they might occur, or, well, anything actually informative. We at the Death Watch don't expect that the place is likely to be imploded or anything like that, but an extended closure for a major remodel and retheme seems to be within the realm of possibility. We'll keep an eye on this.


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