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Las Vegas Casino Death Watch

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Last updated: November 4, 2015

Recent News


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.


New comes in bursts at the Death Watch. Today we receive news that Hooters Casino Hotel was sold on May 1 to Trinity Hotel Investments. This sale still requires regulatory approval. Right now, Navegante Group is operating the casino. It's possible this will change with the new ownership group, but we see no reason to expect that it will. We do expect the name to change, probably at some point in the next 12 months. The article also notes that it is widely rumored that Holiday Inn will come in and run the hotel portion, although not under their brand name.

By the way, for those who are curious, the photo of the hotel above the Las Vegas Sun article was taken from the southwest corner of the top floor of the MGM Grand Casino parking garage. We know this because LV Revealed staff have taken basically the same photo from the exact same position, a version of which is available elsewhere on this web site.


On May 5th Genting Group finally broke ground on their Resorts World project. They expect it to open in 2018. This will be the first new ground-up resort construction since the Cosmopolitan (the SLS was a refurbishment of the Sahara.) It's always nice to see new options open up on the Strip, and we wish them luck.


Casino closing: Riviera The Riviera closes today at about noon. Another classic casino bites the dust. It's sad to see it go, but it would be hard to argue that there was still life left in that old building.


Penn National will purchase the Tropicana for $360 million. This is Penn's second foray into Las Vegas market, and their first on the Strip. They purchased the M in 2009. Despite several different owners over the last few years and some significant upgrades, nobody has found the secret to making this place relevant again. We wish the new ownership luck.


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.


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