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Las Vegas Casino Death Watch

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Last updated: March 23, 2015

Recent News


We have a date for groundbreaking on the new Resorts World Las Vegas, May 5. It will be built on the site of the former Stardust. Since there have been a few fits and starts in the development process to date, we're a little hesitant to get all the way behind this, but we look forward to progress finally being made on this site.


We have an update on the Riviera closing. They are now officially saying the Riviera will close at noon on May 4, as opposed to the quasi-official date we had before. We also know it will close at noon. So, there's that.


Casino Closing: Not only has the LVCVA agreed to purchase the Riviera, but we now have a closing date as well. The Riviera is scheduled to close on May 4. Plan your finial visits now. It's possible the building could be demolished as early as late summer or early fall of 2015.


It's no longer a rumor. It has been confirmed that the LVCVA plans to buy the Riviera. An official announcement may close on Friday, and current projections have the casino closing within six months. While the Riviera is far from its prime, this was a cool place at one time, and we have some fond memories of the place. However, now it's time to start planning a last visit.


It's one thing when Robin Leach talks about hearing rumors, it's quite another when Howard Stutz provides details. While nobody has gone on the record saying that something is definitely going to happen, the suggestion is that the LVCVA may buy out the Riviera site, which will be demolished to be used for more convention space. This seems plausible to us, and it now places the Riviera at the top of our list of most endangered Las Vegas Strip properties.


Last night the Clarion demolotion mostly happened. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has the story and video. The elevator shaft remains mostly standing, and that has to be dealt with somehow.


Robin Leach in his Strip Scribbles column of the Las Vegas Sun spreads the rumor that discussions are afoot about imploding the venerable Riviera and replacing it with something new and better. It's not news that folks might want to talk about replacing the Riviera, and if that comes to pass, an implosion is a critical first step. The question is, from where is the money to shut the place down, blow it up, and build something new going to come? For an implosion to be a real possibility, this is the key question, and one for which Leach provides no hint.


Implosion Alert, for realz: The Clarion Hotel, formerly Greek Isles, Debbie Reynolds, Paddlewheel, etc., is coming down tonight. The Las Vegas Sun reports that the implosion is scheduled for 12:01 AM Tuesday, February 9. The LVRJ suggests that the actual implosion will occur between 2:00 and 3:00 AM. We don't know which is the correct schedule. It's entirely possible that that actual time isn't tightly scheduled, but for those who would like to see this place topple, they will need to be there tonight.


Implosion Alert, Sorta: It's not a casino, but we have a scheduled implosion in the Las Vegas valley, and some readers are implosion fans and might care. The tower of the Gramercy, a set of mixed use buildings at the 215 and Russell Road, which was partially constructed will be imploded at 8:00 AM on February 15th. Well, at least something is going boom.


As the company's namesake once said, "Alea iacta est". Today Caesars Entertainment Corporation officially placed it's largest subsidiary, called Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, into bankruptcy. CEOC includes many of the US-based casinos operting under the Caesars brand name, but only Caesars' Palace in Las Vegas, as well as $18.4 billion in debt. Caesars claims that 80% of the company's senior bondholders have agreed to a pre-packaged bankruptcy, which is a pretty impressive number, and they hope to get this done quickly and emerge from bankruptcy late in 2015. However, there are those debt holders who feel they are being left out in the cold by this plan, as well as those who question the legitimacy of the structuring moves the company made leading up to this situation. There's a great deal to be ironed out, and new news on this story will be coming almost daily.


Oh, the shock of it all! Caesars announces that it plans to file for bankruptcy in January. Okay, maybe it's what just about everyone expected. So, what's going to happen? Well, the first thing is that the casinos in Las Vegas will remain open, and everyone's Total Rewards points will be safe. It's possible that there will be some layoffs and/or that a couple of underperforming properties around the country will be closed down. It's also possible that one or more properties will be sold off, but from the customer perspective, we expect few changes. If you're a debt holder, on the other hand, we expect things to be complicated. Call it a gut feeling, but given the acrimony that already exists between management and the first and second tier debt holders, we don't think this will be a pre-packaged deal that will get rubber-stamped by some bankruptcy judge, but sometimes these things can get political, and if that happens, all bets are off.


The sale of the Cosmopolitan to the Blackstone Group received approval from the Gaming Commission. So, the $1.73 billion sale is finalized. The key question is, what changes are coming to a place that has a lot going for it, but hasn't yet been able to find a way to make money? In any case, we wish the new management team good luck.


At last, our long city-wide nightmare is over. MGM Resorts and Perini Building Co. have resolved their construction defect case. In the mean time, the demolition of the Harmon continues, with the linked article indicating that this process should be finished by summer.


Hot on the heels of news of the inevitability of Caesars reorganization comes news that the company will have layoffs. The good news for the employees, such as it is, is that they plan to lay off less than 1% of their workforce. However, such small layoffs mean they're not really saving a lot of money here. Also, of course, nobody wants them to cut staff to the point where it damages their operations. In the great scheme of things, something like this was probably necessary, even though it doesn't mean a whole lot to the bottom line. That will be small comfort to those who are losing their jobs.


The seemingly inevitable impending Caesars bankruptcy seems even more inevitable now, with Caesars reportedly reaching an agreement on a restructuring plan with key creditors. The Bloomberg report indicates that Chapter 11 may take effect as early as mid-January 2015. The market thinks this will happen, and, frankly, at this point it's hard to imagine a plausible scenario where a reorganization doesn't occur. Once again, we do not expect that Caesars' properties, especially those in Las Vegas, will close or that their day-to-day operation will be significantly impacted. We do think it's possible that some Caesars' assets may be sold off to other companies, but we have no idea right now what something like that might look like.


Name Change: On October 30 The Quad officially becomes the Linq. Or wait, is it the other way around? No, we typed it right the first time. It's hard to remember. The name change reflects the tighter integration between the hotel and the nearby Linq Promenade and all it has to offer. From the linked article, our favorite quote from Robin Leach is, "This is no lipstick on a pig transaction." If you have to point that out... . It is, certainly, a big upgrade, though, from the Imperial Palace days.


Implosion Alert: John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Sun reports that there is a planned demolition of the Clarion nee Greek Isles nee Debbie Reynolds nee Paddlewheel casino on January 13 at 12:01AM. This event hasn't been confirmed, and assuming it goes off as planned, it's not going to be a landmark event, like the implosion of the former Landmark which was located across the street. However, it's what passes for an implosion these days. In the mean time, nobody breathe too hard near the building.


Howard Stutz at the RJ reports that Caesars is talking to creditors about the company's debt. We compare this to a 5 year old girl talking to her parents about getting a pony. The money quote: "The move comes a day after an analyst told Bloomberg News the company could be taking steps to file bankruptcy as soon as January."


HUGE NEWS! The owners of the Riviera tell the Gaming Commission that they might spend $100M on renovations on the property. Of course, We might spend $100M on upgrading the LV Revealed offices, but that doesn't seem all that likely. Of course, the newly shuffled ownership is making changes and spending some money on the place, but we're not convinced this proposed $100M is going to show up.


The Railroad Pass is changing hands. This is a small casino (11,000 square feet of casino space, 120 hotel rooms) between the Boulder Strip and Boulder City. It is being sold by MGM Resorts to Joe DeSimone, a local buisinessman with no previous casino experience. We don't know what his plans are for this place other than it sounds like he wants to keep it open. Railroad Pass isn't exactly the swankiest joint in town, but it does have some history. It is the oldest continually operated casino in Nevada, and received the second casino license issued by the state.


Could there possibly be an implosion in Las Vegas' near future? The Las Vegas Sun reports that the Clarion (formerly the Greek Isles, and before that the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel, and before that the Paddlewheel, and before that the Royal Americana, and before that the Royal Inn) is closing down. What, you don't know about this place? Well, it's on Convention Center Drive, east of Las Vegas Boulevard. It's small, with about 200 rooms and 7000 square feet of gaming, and hasn't had table games in years. What, you knew it existed but didn't know that as of yesterday it was still open? We're sure you're not alone. We don't know what will happen to it, but the article speculates that it might be torn down or imploded. Of course, nobody is giving any official word, much less a time table, but we can hope.


SLS opens on the site of the former Sahara. We at LV Revealed are not exactly squarely in owner SBE's target demographic, but the place does have some intriguing amenities. In any case, as always, we wish the new owners luck.


Periodically, we see shareholder lawsuits, where people who own shares in a company or corporate bonds sue that company for lying or mismanagement or whatnot, but it's pretty uncommon to see a company sue the folks who hold its equity. Be that as it may, that's exactly what Caesars is doing. They claim that their bond holders are hindering the company's efforts to restructure their debt and are pushing the company into default. The bondholders, on the other hand, are claiming that Caesars is transferring assets to subsidiaries in order to create a protected company with the best pieces with the intention to declare bankruptcy on the unprotected part with the worst assets and most of the debt.


Okay, we rarely track closings here that aren't of the "whole property" type, but we think this one is kind of special. As the Death Watch is a home for those who wish to remember the old Las Vegas, we think our readers will want to know.

The Flame Steakhouse at the El Cortez is due to close at the end of August and be replaced by Siegel's, a 24 hour restaurant. This is a real piece of old Las Vegas. It may not be the best or most up-to-date restaurant, but it's one of the last and best throwbacks to the concept of the old Las Vegas steakhouse at reasonable prices. Get the steaks, some french onion soup, an iceberg wedge, some standard steakhouse sides, and a nice red wine and you're set. Visit if you get a chance before it becomes yet another memory.


You know that big blank patch of land across the street from The Wynn that used to be the New Frontier? The one that has sat idle for years? Well, nobody is moving heavy equipment to the site yet, but there are reasons to think that the wheels are finally in motion that will lead to development there. James Packer is looking at getting back into Las Vegas, and (a) is talking to folks about developing a property there and (b) now owns part of the debt on the property itself. We expect there's still a lot to be ironed out before folks start digging holes, but at least there are real reasons to think something might happen there in our lifetimes. As they say, a journey of installing a couple thousand slot machines begins with a single step.


Okay, we have some more information on the now former LVH. First, it will apparently be called Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. We'll be making updates to the LV Revealed web site in the near future. Second, 200 rooms are expected to be converted to time shares, so this is unlikely to have a huge effect on how the property is run. Third, the Westgate folks seem serious about making a real go at returning the property to, well, maybe not its former glory, but at least to a much better state than it is now. In any case, while it is run down, there's a lot to like about this property, and we wish the new owners well.


Caesars is going to rename the Quad, formerly the Imperial Palace, as Linq Hotel & Casino, leveraging their nearby promenade. It will transition to the new name between now and October 30. Caesars also says they'll invest a couple hundred million in revamping it. So, for those of you who want to rush to grab your Quad themed memorabilia before this august incarnation of this property is gone, you better get a move on.


It's official, Westgate has, indeed, purchased the LVH. The purchase price is reported to be in the $150 to $170 million range. We don't know how this will affect the operation of this property, but we expect some changes are coming.


We've been hearing rumors about this for a while, but have been uncertain about at what point to discuss it here. It appears that the LVH is in the process of being sold to Westgate Resorts, although nobody involved in the process is willing to talk about it publically. The sale price is rumored to be in the $150 million range, just over half what it sold for in 2004. If Westgate does close the deal, we expect the place to go time share.


The Cosmopolitan has been sold to the Blackstone Group. The sale price is $1.73 billion. The sale has not yet been approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission. Once this is finalized, we expect some changes at the property, but nothing that will alter its fundamental character.


The Hard Rock has until June 2 to make a $44.3 million payment, and it doesn't appear that they have it. Actually, this was due on March 1, but wasn't paid then. Foreclosure by its lender seems to be a real possibility at this point. We don't think that will significantly affect the operation of the property in the short term, and we certainly don't think it will close, but if this happens it wouldn't be a good sign by any means.


On Nevada Week in Review Howard Stutz reported that Deutsche Bank is actively shopping the Cosmopolitan. Word is that James Packer, son of the the late legendary casino owner and gambler Kerry Packer, is interested. The Cosmopolitan hasn't turned a profit in any quarter since it opened, so we'd expect a new owner to make some changes. But there are many things that everyone seems to like about the place, so we don't expect a demolition or anything close to that. Stutz also writes on the story in the Las Vegas Review Journal.


Casino Opening The Cromwell officially opens it's gaming floor today, with some hotel rooms available for select guests tonight and general booking available starting May 21. So, stop on by while it still has that new casino smell. As always, we wish this new venture good luck.


From the No Real News Here Department, we hear what will happen to the Harmon. There will be no implosion for this monmument to enthusiasm over of good sense. It will slowly be dismantled, floor by floor, over the course of more than a year. Okay, we basically already knew this. What would be news is if we knew when they were going to start. Honestly, just not a very good article, in our opinion.


From the Pretty Much Beating a Dead Horse Department, Standard & Poors has lowered its credit rating for Caesars Entertainment from CCC+ to CCC-, which isn't just a "junk" rating, but pretty close to the "I can't find a sanitation crew willing to take this thing off my curb" territory. The article also indicates that S&P believes that some sort of reorganization has become more likely, although they don't seem to indicate how likely. Worse, they call Caesars' capital structure "unsustainable". Without an additional infusion of cash or sell-off of assets, they may not make it to the end of 2015 without having to file for bankruptcy.


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