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Las Vegas Casino Death Watch

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Last updated: November 15, 2017

Recent News


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 smoothy 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 carcas 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 Laughin 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.


The Review-Journal reports that Crown Resorts is no longer planing to develop its Alon project on the former New Frontier site across Las Vegas Boulevard from Encore. In a press release, Crown Resorts says, "Crown Resorts ... will begin exploring alternatives to optimize the value of their investment in Alon, including an outright sale." If they're not going to build on the property, it's hard to imagine what they'd do with it other than sell it.


Word is that Lucky Dragon has opened as a "soft opening". So, feel free to stop by and check it out. We with them luck.


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