Mirage Las Vegas Resort Will Be Sold to Former Owners of Riviera

Another Las Vegas hotel bombshell is about to drop: The Mirage Las Vegas will soon be sold. (Note: We originally reported an announcement of the sale would be made within three weeks of this story being reported. That date has come and gone, and lots of other things have transpired, too. Jump to the bottom of this post for updates.)

There’s been no official confirmation of the sale, but that’s never stopped us from sharing such news in the past! (Suck it, journalism.)

Rumors are swirling that The Mirage, owned by MGM Resorts International, will be purchased by Starwood Capital Group, former owners of the now-closed Riviera for an undisclosed sum. We’re betting it will be “many millions of dollars.” Experts are guessing between $1.2 and $1.4 billion.

Those same experts note, “MGM has taken its international marketing team and players out of The Mirage.” That’s a huge “tell” for any Strip casino.

Mirage Mermaid

You’re not going anywhere, lucky mermaid. Call your union rep.

Once the sale of The Mirage is complete, the casino will be managed by Paragon Gaming, the company which took over operations of Westgate Las Vegas after the sale and closure of the Riviera.

Paragon Gaming managed Riviera’s casino for two years prior to the Riviera closing on May 4, 2015.

The sale of The Mirage comes as MGM Resorts International is shaking things up in a big way on the other end of The Strip. The company has invested heavily in the new MGM-AEG arena, a 5,000-seat concert theater and The Park, a new shopping and entertainment district. There are also plans for a major renovation and rebrand at Monte Carlo Las Vegas, including a new name for the hotel.

The windows of The Mirage are gold, from actual gold dust used in the tinting process.

Hopefully, ventriloquist Terry Fator can pull some strings and stick around.

The Mirage has a storied history in Las Vegas. It was built by Las Vegas visionary Steve Wynn at a cost of $630 million. At the time it was built, The Mirage was the most expensive casino-hotel in history.

The Mirage Las Vegas opened on November 22, 1989, a fact we knew off the top of our head, probably.

Mirage lobby

The Mirage boasts a 53-foot-long aquarium behind its registration desk. Which is definitely not there to distract you from the line you’re waiting in. Definitely.

The Mirage was built on the site formerly occupied by the Castaways Hotel & Casino (once owned by bajillionaire Howard Hughes), and before that the Red Rooster Nite Club. That was back before people realized spelling it “nite” is kind of annoying.

The hotel was home to the iconic Siegfried & Roy show, and later impressionist Danny Ganz was the hotel’s main entertainment draw. The well-reviewed “The Beatles – Love,” from Cirque du Soleil, continues to be a successful offering.

Love show

Given the relationship with Cirque and MGM Resorts in Las Vegas, the fate of “Love” would appear to be up in the air.

The Mirage recently made news for cutting back on the frequency of its free volcano shows.

One of the best things that could come out of a sale of The Mirage is the possibility new owners might take a long, hard look at the hotel’s Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Public criticism about the plight of the dolphins, especially has grown over the years, and now would be a great time to let the dolphins cash in their stock options and retire.

While details of the sale of The Mirage Las Vegas are few at this time, it’s yet another intriguing turn of events sure to spark conversation of what the change of ownership means for this beloved hotel and the Las Vegas Strip in general.

An MGM Resorts spokesperson has said the company does not “comment on rumor and speculation.” That doesn’t mean you can’t! We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Stay tuned for more unverified rumors as they become available!

Update (8/4/15): In response to our story, the CEO of Mirage Resorts, Jim Murren, has publicly stated the Mirage is “not on the market.” Murren also said the Mirage’s “future should become more clear by the end of the year as MGM evaluates its strategic options.” We take that as confirmation an official announcement of the sale of the Mirage will come by the end of 2015.

Update (8/4/15): Our friends at Edge Vegas claim the sale is happening and the new owners will partner with Marriott.

Update (10/29/15): MGM Resorts announced it will include Mirage in a REIT (real estate investment trust), and confirmed it will not be selling the resort. Read more.

Update (11/10/15): Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin says rumors about a Mirage sale to Starwood were “never true.” Read more.

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  • Sparky

    Vital Vegas should get a lot more traffic now that VegasChatter is leaving us.

    • Misslaydj

      yes sparky…so bummed about VC!!!!!

    • Very sad to see Vegas Chatter go, but are not adverse to the scenario you describe. “)

    • Jonathan Reichel

      You are Right. I discovered this place now that Chatter shuttered 🙁

      • Miss Vegas Chatter every day. Thanks for stopping by!

  • boulder steve

    The former owners of the Riviera have cash now to invest. It will be interesting to see how they operate the Mirage. 10 years from now will we be calling it the new Riviera..hope so the strip needs another budget hotel/casino for us lowrollers.

  • Mr. Bill

    Given that Starwood has the Westin brand next to them, I’m wondering if this spells the end of the former Maxim site (i.e. the current Westin near Bally’s). I’ll be sad to see the Mirage move out of the mLife rotation, but given that MGM seems to be wanting to prudently reduce debt service, I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m sad in general that low limit 3:2 blackjack seems to be disappearing, leaving me only to play pai gow tiles at their properties. (Albeit a smaller and smaller #).

    • yetis911

      Different Starwood. This is Starwood Capital. this one owns the luxury brand Baccarat, as in the crystal or the game and now hotel brand.

  • FYMYAWF

    Ho. Ly. Snit. Didn’t see this one coming. Mirage has always seemed to be one of the jewels in MGM’s crown, though it’s aging now you had a feeling it would be there in the mid-range of MGM resorts along with the Grand and MB forever.

    Suppose this means no more Mlife at the Mirage.

    Bombshell.

  • lori

    Without the MGM running it – the Mirage could have the opportunity to once again be a wonderful place!

  • Marvin Miller

    The headline reads like it’s a done deal. Which is it, a rumor or is the deal just waiting to be announced? Thanks.

    • It’s a rumor and also happening. Which is where this blog tends to live. “)

      • Marvin Miller

        Thanks for the reply, Scott….disappointed MGM would let this property go. Oh well, maybe the new owners will raise the bar on this landmark resort. I’ll be staying at the Mirage the week after next. Might me my last time.

  • Sash Vegas

    My very thoughts Sparky. Signing up for Vital Vegas now !

    • Misslaydj

      i dont think you can sign up. you just have to come back and keep checking unless something has changed within the last few months

  • meltwater

    seems like an odd deal for MGM. I would think they would want to have a property on that north end of the strip. The Mirage is really in good shape for being as old as it is, after renovating their sports book a few years ago they have the best book in vegas.

  • greg morris

    great another casino that the’ll let fall apart. mabe after a wile they will sell this one to the circus!!!

  • Shameek Ghosh

    I gotta say, I just came across this blog today, and it really makes me want to visit Vegas for a third time. You run an excellent blog, with a wicked sense of humor. I, too, am fond of puns.

    • Misslaydj

      this blog is sooo funny. i love it.

    • Thanks for your kind words and hope you’ll stop by again.

  • jbatdorf

    Any idea if they will continue with mLife?

    • There’s been some discussion about if the database for Mirage is part of the deal. If they’re not part of MGM, mLife won’t continue. The deal may have some provision the new owners can’t solicit via the database for a couple of years.

      • Fred Norris

        At the very least, the database of any MGM customers who are primarily Mirage players would have to be included. Of course, that doesn’t mean MGM wouldn’t selectively cherry pick certain customers so that would remain MGM only customers. No company will would a property without some sort of customer database attached.

  • Quina Aparicio

    Hello! I think I read in an interview with Jim Murren that MGM will sell the Crystals Mall by one billion dollars.

    That would be a wise decision for MGM.

    The decision to sell one of the crown jewels of MGM seems to have no logic.

  • scope213

    Greetings vital vegas. Google lead me to you thx to Vegaschatter. I hope you’re just as good as they were.

    • Misslaydj

      they are

    • Thanks for stopping by. Definitely not Vegas Chatter, but we have our moments. Can’t keep up with their quantity (this blog is a hobby), but hopefully you’ll find some nice pictures and smart-ass jokes.

  • FilthyMacNasty

    Every change made to the Mirage by MGM has been for the worse. I hope Starwood Capital shows some common sense and reverses MGM’s attempts to turn a once great resort into a hipster haven. Just look next door at TI as an example of what NOT to do. This trend of tearing the heart out of every major casino resort on the Strip, and leasing every square inch of space to franchise restaurants and chain stores, and chasing away loyal gamblers by penny pinching comps and changing table rules, has utterly destroyed everything that made a trip to Las Vegas special and unique. I’ve read countless stories where these casino execs claim to be making all this money from shopping and nightclubs, yet MGM, Caesars Entertainment, etc. all seem to be in massive cash crunches. Seeing empty gaming tables, while 22 – year olds are lined up for an hour waiting to be invited in to a trendy new nightclub (with a shelf life of roughly 18 months), doesn’t strike me as a profitable business model. How many Cirque shows and “gourmet burger” restaurants does Las Vegas need? Just have to hold our collective breath and hope someone at Starwood understands what Vegas is about. Hint: it’s not about looking like the shopping district of every major city.

    • slotguru

      FYI…MGM hasn’t owned TI since March of 2009, the new owner turned it into a dump not MGM

      • FilthyMacNasty

        Yes, I know. When I read the story, I immediately thought of the TI. The Mirage and TI were sibling properties created by Steve Wynn, and the minute MGM got its tentacles on those properties, the slow, steady decline began for both. TI got sold off first, and the result of poor decision making, first by MGM and then by Phil Ruffin, is a property that has been gutted of all its original charm. It was a double whammy for the TI. I used it as an example of what could very well happen now to the Mirage.

        • slotguru

          I have to disagree with you, both properties we’re much better off under MGM than they were under Steve Wynn. Employees were happier, benefits were better and the properties made more money

    • Jokersmile

      It’s too late..gaming is a thing of the past. That old cigarette smoking generation is dying off and almost gone now. Gaming is not a sustainable business practice.

      • Todd Sterling

        Yeah that is why it is still around! I’m sorry but are they tearing hotels/casinos down? NO! Gambling is going no where.

  • Rick Wilson

    When Starwood ran the Desert Inn and Caesars 20 years ago, the whole thing was a disaster. Billy Hornbuckle couldn’t make any decisions because his hands were tied.

  • franko

    I’m here because the imminent demise of vegas chatter. hoping Vital Vegas can fill the void for me. wishing you much success

    • Misslaydj

      i frequent both but vc had way more content. without them i would not have found out about cabanas for a cause for my trip 2 weeks ago. 100 for a cabana at the palms SWEET. but cause if this blog i found about triple george!!!

      • Even if that’s the only benefit of this blog, it would be a good one. Try the chicken parm!

  • Dano

    Certainly noticed the drop in service initially in the change from Mirage Resorts to MGM, but that has certainly improved the last couple of years. While I didn’t like all that MGM did with the Mirage, they certainly have at least maintained it – TI is a total DUMP! And seeing how its being taken over by people who failed so badly at the Riveria, I’m not hopeful for my favorite place.

  • JeffinOKC

    Hard to know for sure which Starwood unit is getting how much capital and runway to make this work. But, Starwood leader Barry Sternicht has made fortunes on visionary deals in New York and Miami, IIRC. He has been equally unlucky in Las Vegas, IMO. Owned Caesars and Desert Inn during parts of the 1990s, sold before the post 2000 boom and was essentially frozen out by price and availability until he picked up the Riviera a few years ago.
    I thought Riviera ownership was a closely watched land play for Starwood, and they were not going to go too far down either of the subsidize or renovate roads. I think it creaked along at a profit & loss rate that allowed them to say they owned a Strip resort without unbearable losses, and when they got a solid chance to sell, they took it. I would guess they also had the Mirage negotiation going for many months (if not years), and things finally came together. Wild speculation might suggest that settling Kirk Kerkorian’s estate might be helped by the company getting a billion-two to a billion-five ish in cash this year.
    This might be make or break for both Starwood and Paragon Gaming on the Strip: it seems like it is the 4th or 5th chance for Starwood to show they can be a long term Strip owner, and IIRC, Paragon is driven by the Bill Bennett legacy team of his daughter and others who spent their early lives toiling in the /Circus-Circus/Mandalay/Sahara programs. Smart people who (should) now have a well capitalized, top notch Strip property to run.

  • Todd Sterling

    Of all the casinos to sell off. Why wouldn’t the Rivera bunch wait for the Ceasar’s bankruptcy and buy one or two of their casinos? I personally like the Mirage and hate to see it being sold off to a group that cannot seem to keep a casino afloat. Now granted the Rivera was in a horrible location. Maybe they will do better with a better location.

  • Deena Ann

    So sad also about VC…….darn.

  • ZzjitterzZ

    With MGM selling off TI and now Mirage (rumored), it begs the question, why the f~ck are they holding on Circus Circus? Should Mirage be sold, CC would be more isolated than it is now. It’s also the least pretty. Some things just don’t make sense.

    • John Ross Ewing

      With the property MGM owns and now uses, MGM Festival Grounds home of the City of Rock festival, They should renovate Circus Circus even more now than ever and not sell it.

      • Circus Circus is a money maker and fills a niche. Big question mark, though.

  • Jokersmile

    Just curious where you got this info from all indications are that there are no offers on the table at this time.

    • While we can’t say where, we’re actually hearing more details leading us to think something’s in the works. The CEO of MGM Resorts said the Mirage isn’t on the market, which would technically be correct if it’s already sold. Guess we’ll see. Thanks for your note.

      • Jokersmile

        Thanks Scott

  • saynotounit

    I wish I could work there at Mirage

  • Vincent Sims

    Any updates on this rumor? It’s starting to feel like it may not happen. Thanks!

    • Yeah, it’s an odd one. The company is adamant that it’s not happening (the CEO has said it publicly and a high-level PR rep communicated it personally), so it’s possible our sources jumped the gun, despite what the analysts have said. Mr. Murren has said the company plans to “announce its real estate plans” by the end of the year, so we’ll see what’s up.