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Las Vegas Casino Death Watch

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Last updated: September 17, 2019

Recent News


According to Bloomberg, the Bellagio and the MGM Grand are on the auction block. Apparently, the potential buyer is Blackstone Group. We have no idea how real this is, since all parties alleged to be involved deny it, and no idea if it would come to pass if the negotiations were serious. Blackstone already owns the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.


We here at the Death Watch have long memories and that's more than a euphemism for being old. Every now and then we enter a reflective state, and ask ourselves, "Hey, wasn't X event supposed to have happened by now?" One of these that has seemed like it has been pending for at least a decade is Hooters rebranding. Well, that day has finally come. It has been sold and will become OYO Hotel & Casino, with the transformation allegedly occurring by the end of the year.


Alert! Hotel Closing. The Hard Rock had initially planned to remain open during its renovation and renaming to become Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Now they plan to close down for most of 2020. So, if you want to visit the Hard Rock Hotel, you have until just after the upcoming Super Bowl to do so.


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.


Caesars Entertainment has agreed to have a majority of its shares acquired by Eldorado Resorts. While Eldorado has grown mightily since it first opened its namesake property in Reno in 1973, this still seems like a seriously levereged buyout, and we recall that the last time a levereged buyout of Caesars occurred it didn't end up going so well. But once again, we weren't consulted.


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.


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