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Las Vegas Casino Death Watch

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Last updated: June 28, 2019

Recent News


Owner Alex Meruelo has announced that the name of the SLS Las Vegas will be changing ... back ... to Sahara. Okay. We think "excited" would be to strong a word to describe how we feel about this, but we're not opposed.


The new owner of the shuttered Lucky Dragon says he plans to have the hotel up and running in about two months, and to have the casino floor converted into a convention hall by the end of November. He also plans to change the property's name, but doesn't yet have a new one selected. It kinda sounds like the dim sum restaurant, our favorite part of this property, won't be part of it's future.


The Lucky Dragon has been sold. The new owner is Don Ahern, head cheese of Ahern Rentals, a familiar name in Las Vegas. He paid $36 million for the property, which is a really low winning bid. As far as we know, Ahern himself doesn't have a casino license or any direct experience in the gambling business, so we don't know what his plans are. The place had some good things going for it, so we hope that someone can turn it into a successful business. In any case, we wish the new owner good luck.


The Wall Street Journal reports that the Cosmopolitan is for sale (article behind a paywall). The article speculates that its sale could bring in as much as $4 billion. We think that's a wild number. We do have to congratulate Blackstone, the current owners, on sticking with this property long enough for it to turn around. There was a time when despite good reviews, this place was considered a financial albatross.


There's an article at the Las Vegas Independent that does a pretty good job of summarizing the changes that have been affecting the casinos of the Las Vegas strip. While nothing going on seems to rise to the level of casino closings, there are reasons to think that the casino industry may be heading for some changes.


This one kind of slipped through the cracks on us. The Hard Rock Hotel will close at some point, either late this year or early next, and after four months it will reopen as the Virgin Hotel. So, this is more rebranding than a real "permanent" closing, and there won't be an implosion of any sorts, but it's kind of a hotel closing.


Carl Icahn has taken an ownership stake in Caesars Entertainment. He owns about 10% of the company's stock and controls a quarter of its board. Icahn usually doesn't take a significant stake in a company unless he thinks it should make changes. The idea of significant management changes, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and asset sales all seem more likely going forward. What these changes will actually be remains to be seen.


We now know the name of the resort that will occupy the site of the former Las Vegas Club, it will be called Circa. The current schedule has this place opening in December 2020. It will be nice to have a shiny new attraction downtown, so obviously we wish the Stevens' success in this venture.


Well, the primary lender, Snow Covered Capital, placed the opening bid for the shuttered Lucky Dragon. It turned out to be the only bid, so they own it. What happens to it next is an open question. Stay tuned.


The Lucky Dragon creditor hopes to sell the beleaguered hotel/casino at auction on October 30. It's unclear, though, if anyone will even show up. We'll see what happens. It would be great if someone could find a way to make a go with this property.


The bad news keeps piling up for the Lucky Dragon. The auction didn't go well, the hotel is about to be shuttered, after which we should expect a foreclosure sale. The LVRJ says it expects to close down casino operations on October 2, so on the off chance you want to stay there, you need to get there in a hurry. Unfortunately, this place has been a disaster as a business. We have no idea what will happen to it, but we hope the folks who operated the Dim Sum restaurant can find a place to sell their wares.


It has been a quiet time as far as Las Vegas casino transactions, but we got one today, even though the hotel being transacted no longer has a casino. The Westin Casino has been sold. The purchase price is $195.5 million. This place used to have a casino. It was known as the Casino Max for a while, before that it was the Westin Casuarina, and way back when it was called the Maxim.


In recent months, the two major sources for Las Vegas business news, the Las Vegas Review Journal and the Las Vegas Sun, have adopted a new online publication model. Folks can now view a limited number of articles from each publication per month without paying a subscription fee. First, we at the Death Watch don't begrudge newspapers trying to figure out how to pursue a viable business model in the Internet age. We wish them luck. But it does create some problems.

Going forward, the Death Watch will still link to those sources which allow a finite number of free accesses per given time, but we will preferentially link out to sources that are free (or free-er) over those that charge for content. We just wanted to provide some transparency toward our thought process on this issue.


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