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Las Vegas Casino Death Watch

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Last updated: May 8, 2018

Recent News


The RJ provides some additional information on the construction project by Derek Stevens, owner of The D and Golden Gate casinos, in downtown Las Vegas on the site of the former Las Vegas club plus neighboring parcels. We don't have a name, a detailed construction schedule, or an estimated opening date. We do have a height, though, 459 feet. More information as it becomes available.


Tomorrow, the Monte Carlo casino will officially become Park. The biggest impact is that it means that eventually someone will have to go through the LV Revealed web site pages and change every occurance of "Monte Carlo" to "Park". Honestly, the MGM folks probably have to expend a little more effort in this matter than we do, but that's their business. Note that construction associated with the upgrade and re-theming will be ongoing after the official name change.


We've got some news to report today on other matters, so it's convenient to discuss the fate of the Lucky Dragon. Weren't they supposed to go through an auction back in February? Whatever happened to that? Apparently, it never happened, because folks are now discussing selling it via bankruptcy court. The way folks are talking about it, it sounds like some think it may not be viable, period. If so, that's too bad. At the same time, with it all closed up and creditors worried about how or whether they're going to get paid, it doesn't sound like folks are in a huge hurry to resolve this.


Pretty big news about the Fontainbleau carcas, it has a new name, "The Drew", and a projected opening date, "late 2020". We always view these sorts of announcements with some amount of skepticism, but this is a pretty big deal. It's nice to hear about concrete plans concerning one of the region's biggest reminders of the great recession. The next step will be to see substantial progress toward the opening date, but still, this is welcome news.


The foreclosure auction for Lucky Dragon has been postponed for two weeks, until February 22. The only reason we can imagine for delaying this auction is the hope that there will be more interest later than there is now. That's not a reason to be optimistic about it reopening any time soon.


It might seem like this isn't directly Death Watch related, but it's undeniably huge Las Vegas casino news. Steve Wynn is no longer at the helm of Wynn Resorts. In this day and age, it feels kind of inevitable, and we have a difficult time feeling sorry for him, but no matter how you slice it, it's a big deal. As far as it pertains to the Death Watch, will this affect what happens to the former New Frontier site? If not the eventual plans, will it at least affect the timetable? We expect it to take a while to shake out.


More Lucky Dragon news. The casino will face foreclosure on February 6. What happens after that will depend completely on what the new owners want to do with it.


Casino Closing: Uh oh, looks like those concerns about Lucky Dragon proved to be well founded. The casino announced it is "temporarily" closing its gaming and restaurant operations. They say they will resume operations "within six months", but the announcement is required to be upbeat. We're far less confident that it will turn out this way. This is an unfortunate turn of events.


Aside from pictures of casinos being torn down, the type of headline most certain to get the attention of the Death Watch is, "<casino name> Appears to be Struggling". We see such a headline in today's RJ, this time mentioning Lucky Dragon. We never want to see a local business struggle, and we really like the dim sum restaurant there. We'd also like to read the whole article, but right now the RJ is hosting ads that take over one's web browser and try to get us to install malware. Come on, RJ, get your shit together.


Demolition continues at the Las Vegas Club downtown. Honestly, that's not really news, but when we have a chance to link to some fine photos of the destruction of an old Las Vegas casino, well, let's just say there's no way we can resist.


We know that Steve Wynn is not happy with the fact that his eponymous resort is basically sitting on the edge of the Earth. He has been hoping that someone would build something on the lot across the Boulevard that used to support the New Frontier. Well, it seems that he has decided to take matters into his own hands. Wynn is buying 38 acres there from Crown Resorts, who bought it from El Ad, who bought it from Phil Ruffin. There is no word on what he plans to do with the land, but we're guessing he'll do something with it after complaining for so many years about having a giant blank spot in the landscape next door.


The new owners of the Fontainebleau have done something with their relatively recent purchase. They've changed the name to "Project Blue". It's even less an impressive move once one realizes that they have to use a different name since the project is no longer associated with the namesake property in Miami. So, this is literally the least effort someone could have put into a name change. It's possible that the new owners are making massive progress on plans for the new place, but if so, they're keeping it a closely guarded secret.


There's a good article in the Las Vegas Sun today about MGM's plans for Las Vegas, among other gaming jurisdictions. Short version: There aren't any big changes or new properties on their radar. They're going to finish the remodel of the Monte Carlo to the Park, and they don't plan big changes to Circus Circus. Once done with the Park, they may sink some money into remodeling New York-New York or the Luxor or the Excalibur, or maybe the Mirage. So, the news is that there's not much news here, nor do we expect a lot of new news from MGM in the next several years.


Apparently, the deal to sell the SLS to Alex Meruelo isn't going as smoothly as the parties might hope, and closing on the transaction may not occur until after the new year. While we expect this deal will still go through, it's possible that what we're hearing about the negotiations not being finalized is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned.


As we type this, the Las Vegas Club downtown is is being demolished. No explosives are being used, but nonetheless the buildings are coming down to make way for a new hotel casino.


The final approval for the sale of the Stratosphere and Arizona Charlie's casinos to Golden Entertainment has been given. It's a big bite for Golden, and Whitehall (Golden Sachs) is happy to have these properties out of their portfolio. We wish the new owners luck in this venture.


We've been (rightly, in our opinion) skeptical with all the announcements coming from Genting regarding their Resorts World Las Vegas project. However, if you go by the site today, you will see people operating machinery digging holes and moving dirt. Also, Rich Velotta reports for the RJ that Genting has named a construction manager for the project and awarded more than $400 million in construction contracts. So, this thing is really happening. We believe it is plausible that it will open in 2020.


The Fontainebleau carcass has been sold to the investment firm of Witkoff and New Valley for $600 million. It seems from a news release that the new owners will change the name. What we don't know is how much of the structure they consider to be salvageable, whether they intend to build and operate a structure on that property themselves, and if so, on what timetable that would begin.


From the "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead" department, we keep hearing rumors about the imminent sale of the Fontainebleau to a fleet of rarely named parties, but nothing has come of it thus far. Rich Velotta at the RJ has a good update on these, if you're interested. Some day, someone will buy it, and something will be done with it, and afterwards some pundit will claim credit for correctly predicting this, asking us to ignore the previous times this didn't come to pass.


The Golden Gate will close for a week (August 20-25) as part of a significant expansion that will double the size of the casino floor. Derek Stevens has done a lot of good things downtown since taking control of casinos there. We look forward to these changes at the Golden Gate and wish the folks there good luck.


Casino Sale Alert: Golden Entertainment, the folks behind the PT's Pubs chain, is acquiring the Stratosphere chain, which included the two Arizona Charlie's and the Aquarius in Laughlin from Whitehall Street Real Estate Partners. We don't know what changes will result from this, but we don't expect anything nearly as drastic as a closure.


Casino Sale Alert: My goodness, where has this flurry of news been for the last five months? Word is that SLS has been sold. Once this clears the regulators, expected to be by the end of Q3, the new owners will be the Meruelo Group who own the Grand Sierra in Reno. It's no secret that the SLS has struggled mightily since the upgrade. Despite having a restaurant row the equal of any resort in town, it never really caught on with it's target demographic. We wish the new owners success and hope the restaurants stay open.


GGRAsia reports that not only is Crown not going to develop their Alon resort on the former New Frontier site, but they are actively looking to sell the site. The article reports that the asking price is $400 million. Who buys and at what price will tell us a great deal about how healthy the Las Vegas business climate is perceived to be.


Bloomberg reports that Caesars has big plans for Las Vegas as the exit bankruptcy. Well, maybe medium plans. Unfortunately, nobody seems to want to tell us what they are. However, in addition the upgrades to the Flamingo mentioned previously, they are quoted as saying, "We have a lot of real estate that's underutilized." Then they point out that they have 50 undeveloped acres behind Bally's, 40 acres behind the Linq, and 7 acres in front of Caesars Palace. I don't expect a whole new hotel/casino is in the works for any of these sites, but we might see something as ambitious as the Linq promenade.


More than once the folks from Genting have said that a flurry of development work was right around the corner at the Resorts World nee Echelon nee Stardust site. So of course we will rush to believe them when they announce that construction will resume Real Soon Now with a projected opening date of 2020. We at the Death Watch do believe that this project will be completed some day, really we do. However, given the number of times that this project hasn't been restarted, we'll wait until the cranes actually go up and start moving things around before we start to get excited about what this place might have in store for us.


The Death Watch isn't dead and hasn't been dormant, really. It's just that we don't make the news, so when there's nothing to report, there's no reason to update the site. Right now we're in a period where business is slowing picking up, so nobody is looking at closing properties, but things aren't booming, so nobody is looking to replace existing properties. That makes it a quiet time for us.

But, finally, we have some news! Caesars announces they will spend $90 million to upgrade rooms at the Flamingo! Okay, that's not exactly huge news, but we were kinda looking for an excuse to post something, and, frankly, it's the biggest casino news we've heard, well, so far this year.


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