Monthly Archives: April 2021

Rumor: Seminole Tribe Sets Sights on Bally’s and Rebrand to Hard Rock

Hard Rock International, the Seminole tribe, has been kicking tires all over town for a casino acquisition.

They were reportedly close on Planet Hollywood, but now we hear the tribe’s in advanced talks to purchase Bally’s on the Las Vegas Strip.

Bally's Hard Rock Las Vegas

It’s more fondue than pizza, but you do you.

Hard Rock International bought back the rights to use the Hard Rock brand for a casino resort in Las Vegas from Juniper Capital in May 2020. (There’s a Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip, but there’s no casino, so it doesn’t count.)

Juniper purchased the Hard Rock casino in 2018 from Brookfield Asset Management.

There will be a quiz.

We’ve heard the Seminoles were pretty far down the path of buying Planet Hollywood, but hit a snag related to the Zappos Theater. Namely, Planet Hollywood’s owner, Caesars Entertainment, doesn’t want to give it up.

What would it mean if the Seminoles are buying Bally’s, as we’re told they are?

Well, it would lay waste to the theory Bally’s will be rebranded to Horseshoe. Caesars can’t rebrand something it doesn’t own.

We were curious why it was taking Caesars so long to do the rebrand given: 1) Caesars sold the Bally’s brand to Twin River, now called Bally’s Corp., and 2) Bally’s Corp. recently purchased Tropicana and could very well rebrand it to Bally’s, assuming there isn’t another one on The Strip.

The rumored sale of Bally’s to Hard Rock International helps explain the rebrand foot-dragging.

Please bring back that Duran Duran memorabilia. We miss it.

It’s worth noting Bally’s is nearly 50 years old (it was formerly MGM Grand). That’s about 1,050 in Las Vegas resort years. What if Hard Rock demolished the place and built a big-ass guitar hotel on the site, like the one in Florida?

Hi, Seminole peeps. Please make one of these on The Strip, after relieving us of Grand Bazaar Shops, thanks.

Chatter about Las Vegas casino mergers and acquisitions is at an all-time high.

Caesars Entertainment has a huge debt load, and company officials have publicly said they’ll sell one or more Las Vegas casinos.

Apparently, there’s been a lot of interest in Cromwell, but the company isn’t selling.

In somewhat related news, confirmation of another sale, of a major off-Strip resort, is expected soon. We’ll share when we can share, of course.

What we can say is a clear theme is emerging, as neither buyer owns a casino in Las Vegas at the moment.

Until then, lots of big announcements in the works, and lots of new casino chips to collect. There are Circa chips (opened in late 2020), Mohegan Sun chips (at Virgin, which opened recently), Resorts World chips (opening June 24, 2021) and possibly Bally’s chips at Tropicana and Hard Rock chips at the former Bally’s.

The usual disclaimer applies: The rumor of a Bally’s sale to Hard Rock International is unconfirmed (nor will it be prior to an official announcement, as Caesars Entertainment is a public company and won’t comment on rumors). We share industry chatter we think you’ll find of interest. Things change, so don’t get your manties in a bunch if this particular rumor doesn’t pan out. We are a blog, not a soothsayer. Probably.

Las Vegas is in a constant state of flux, and we look forward to your being fluxed up here again soon.

Resorts World Confirms Residencies: Celine Dion, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan

Resorts World officially confirmed a cavalcade of performers who will have residencies at the new resort.

The list of resident performers include Celine Dion, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan.

DJs Tiesto and Zedd were previously announced.

You heard right! Celine Dion is back. Or will be. Possibly in 2022.

Resorts World Celine

You say “diva” like it’s a bad thing.

This announcement came as no surprise to readers of this blog, of course, because we “ruin” everything.

We originally shared Celine Dion would have a residency at Resorts World 444 days before the official announcement. Yes, we counted.

Confirmation of these long-rumored residencies came in the form of a strange but visually compelling commercial featuring all the A-list talent, most doing things completely unrelated to performing.

Resorts World Katy Perry

Katy Perry grappled with weight gain following her recent pregnancy, so watch closely for this clever inside joke.

Please watch this video multiple times, because it cost Resorts World a metric ass-ton and they need to get their money’s worth.

If you think we were kidding about the expense of the ad, here’s what Resorts World said about it in their news release, “Utilizing the most sophisticated virtual set designs, the video merges virtual reality and CGI elements, using game-engine technologies to blur the line between the physical and digital worlds.”

Fun fact: This video technology was used in “The Mandalorian” and “The Jungle Book.”

To avoid accusations of sexism, we will note Luke Bryan also grappled with weight gain following his recent pregnancy.

Our only real criticism of the ad is it doesn’t identify who these folks are. This is a common pitfall of creatives who may be too close to their subject matter. It’s entirely possible a lot of people won’t recognize Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Tiesto Zedd or even Carrie Underwood. Most  will know Celine, but it’s a misstep to assume these other performers are easily recognizable.

We trust the ad was mainly directed at existing fan bases, but even we wouldn’t have been able to identify several of these performers, and we tend to know everything.

In the video, Carrie Underwood wrangles virtual butterflies, many of which grappled with weight gain during their recent pregnancies.

No details were given about when these residencies might start, and although Resorts World opens June 24, 2021, it’s likely the headliners won’t kick off their shows until months later.

The theater and Zouk nightclub aren’t expected to be live right off the bat, but Tiesto and Zedd will perform starting July 4, in the resort’s Ayu dayclub.

We hear some live entertainment will be available at Resorts World, but in the ballroom. The theater seats 5,000, the ballroom accommodates about 1,000.

We’ll once again be the first to share early word is performers in the ballroom are likely to include Uncle Kracker and Darius Rucker.

Is anyone going to mention the giant severed ear? Why do we have to do everything?

Resorts World, built at a cost of $4.3 billion, has spared no expense to make a splash with its list of resident performers.

It seems entirely possible some of these headliner gigs have been pushed back because deferred payment would be beneficial to the enterprise.

Resorts World is owned by Genting Group, a company with lots of hospitality assets, an industry especially hard hit by the pandemic.

Resorts World Catskills alone, for example, is $400 million in debt. That’s peanuts compared to the cost of Resorts World Las Vegas, but it would make sense for the company to pace itself when it comes to issuing big paychecks.

Zedd and Tiesto, for example, are likely to make $250,000 or more per show, a business model that went terribly wrong for Kaos nightclub at Palms.

Epic Tiesto shot, video production wizards.

But reality checks aren’t fun, glitzy headliner announcements are!

We’re rooting hard for Resorts World, a throwback to the golden days of Las Vegas megaresorts, a time when “Build it and they will come!” was actually true.

The hope is Las Vegas will welcome Celine Dion, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Tiesto and Zedd with open arms and (critically, to the success of Resorts World) purses.

And wallets. Sexism is everywhere!

Icons like Celine Dion don’t just sell tickets, they draw guests of a certain age and income bracket, customers likely to take advantage of the resort’s other amenities and boost the bottom line.

There’s more to come from Resorts World, and once Las Vegas is unmasked, this summer’s going to be an absolute blast.

Cirque du Soleil Sets Return Dates for “O,” “Mystere” and Blue Man Group

Three popular Cirque du Soleil shows are reopening in Las Vegas after more than a year.

“Mystere,” the one we get mixed up with “Ka,” returns to Treasure Island on June 28, 2021.

“Mystere” was first performed on Dec. 25, 1993. How it’s run that long truly is a mystere.

“O,” the water one, reopens at Bellagio, the water one, on July 1, 2021.

“O” has earned more than a billion dollars since it opened Oct. 17, 1998. Damn right, it’s reopening.

Blue Man Group (yes, that’s a Cirque show, in case you missed the memo) returns to Luxor on June 24, 2021.

By our estimate, Las Vegas has been 31 percent less weird without Blue Man Group. And not in a good way.

Blue Man Group splatters about 50 gallons of paint on audience members each week. Panchos are provided.

Quite a few shows have reopened on the Las Vegas Strip, but they aren’t Cirque shows, and as we’ve said before, Las Vegas isn’t really Las Vegas without Cirque.

Here’s a quick guide to all the Cirque shows in Las Vegas.

It’s been a bumpy ride for Cirque du Soleil recently. The company filed bankruptcy during the pandemic, but had accumulated nearly a billion dollars in debt even prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

A series of poor management decisions (“R.U.N.” at Luxor was a $70 million trainwreck) tanked the company financially, but the good news is Cirque du Soleil is now has new, more competent, leadership. Just kidding. Same guy in charge.

Also, former MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren is onboard. Jim Murren is the guy who turned Monte Carlo’s $80 million a year earnings into $62 million after spending $550 million on a rebrand to Park MGM. What could possibly go wrong?

Our horrible attitude aside, we’re thrilled to share Cirque is back!

These larger-than-life shows are intertwined with Las Vegas, and these performers, some of the most talented in the world, need to mount the stage again.

Which isn’t as dirty as it sounds.

Let’s Cirque again!

Seriously This Time, Electric Daisy Carnival is Postponed

If you like a drama with lots of twists, this qualifies as that.

Despite recent announcements to the contrary, organizers of the EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) music festival now say the event will, indeed, be postponed to Oct. 2021.

This is the part where we told you this would happen back in March.

Yeah, it’s complicated.

When we last reported on this saga, EDC had decided to proceed with its May 21-23 dates despite the fact officials rejected their safety plan. You know, the one with the COVID-sniffing dogs.

Apparently, further discussions between EDC and authorities didn’t go particularly well, so EDC won’t take place until October 22-24, 2021.

On social media, EDC founder Pasquale Rotella said, “As we expected and were assured prior to announcing the festival for May, Nevada state officials announced they would lift social distancing requirements as of May 1, creating a path for EDC to happen with strict safety guidelines in place.”

Rotella continued, “We just had a meeting in Las Vegas this past Friday with police, fire, medical and other agencies involved with EDC to plan out details surrounding the event. However, today, Clark County (home of EDC and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway) passed a reopening plan that requires 60% of their residents to be vaccinated before restrictions over large scale gatherings such as EDC can be lifted. It might happen in time, it might not. Either way, we can’t take that risk.”

Read the full statement on the Instagrams.

We are happy to translate: Pasquale Rotella is really pissed right now. Sorry, “heartbroken.”

The EDC change of course has led to a degree of chaos across Las Vegas, as this event moves the needle in many ways. Everything from room rates to pool cabana prices and staffing levels of myriad businesses are built around the massive influx of visitors for the event that can draw as many as 125,000 people a day.

EDC was going to be a symbol of the return of large scale live entertainment following a brutal year for the concert industry.

Now, not so much.

EDC isn’t EDC without a dance floor, so the “oontz” will just have to wait.

MGM Grand’s Leo the Lion Statue Gets a Buffing

If you need a visual metaphor for Las Vegas as we spring back from a tough year, look no further than the MGM Grand’s lion.

The iconic statue is currently being buffed to a high sheen.

MGM Grand lion

Dope goatee, bro.

The lion, whose name is Leo, is 45 feet tall and weighs about 50 tons.

The statue’s 25-foot-tall pedestal alone weighs 23,000 pounds.

MGM Grand’s lion is the largest bronze sculpture in the U.S. The Northern Hemisphere, actually, but since we don’t exactly know what that means, we’ll just go with “in the U.S.”

Cherry picker for scale.

This isn’t the first massive lion to sit outside MGM Grand, of course.

This Leo replaced another statue, made of fiberglass, that caused a bit of drama at the Strip casino.

Yes, Leo is male. ‘Nuff said.

The story goes that the original lion was replaced because “walking through the mouth of a lion” was considered bad luck by Asian gamblers.

The fact is guests didn’t walk through the lion’s mouth, but under its chin, despite myriad reputable sources perpetuating this urban myth. Check this out.

Either way, out with the old, in with a must-see Vegas photo op.

Leo clearly needed a spa day.

The artist who sculpted Leo was a former con man, Snellen Maurice “Snell” Johnson. He died in March 2001.

Because the gold bronze statue is exposed to the elements, it tarnishes, so crews have to polish it from time to time, and that time is now.

Zoomed-in shots of the statue reveal how dull it’s become, but weeks of work have resulted in Leo being restored to his original glory. It’s still a work-in-progress, but it appears he’ll be fully polished by the end of April 2021.

Big cat dermabrasion sitch.

As the pandemic recedes, a flood of visitors is expected to return to Las Vegas (it’s already happening, actually), so MGM Grand clearly wants to ensure Leo is ready for his close-up!

Let’s hope other casinos take MGM Grand’s lead, as casino resort maintenance has suffered  considerably over the last year, and Las Vegas needs to ensure its luster never fades again.

Which is a much more romantic metaphor than talking about the pent-up demand for vigorous buffing in Las Vegas. Um, hello, it’s called maturity.

Update (4/20/21): Well, that escalated quickly. Right after we published our story, we popped by the see the progress on the polishing project, and it appears workers are pretty much done. Here’s a current photo of Leo at MGM Grand.

Las Vegas eye candy is majestic AF.

Podcast: Raiders Tavern at M Resort, Pinball On The Strip, The 35 Cinema and More

There’s simply too much Vegas for one humble blog, so we’ve got a podcast as well!

In this installment, we’re jamming your orifices full of all the Vegas scoop you can accommodate without causing a hernia. Probably.

First up, we chat with the General Manager of M Resort, Hussain Mahrous, about the new Raiders Tavern & Grill.

This new sports-themed bar and restaurant is the first of its kind in the world, with lots of TVs, memorabilia as well as great food and drinks, especially that last thing. Two words: Boozy shakes.

Raiders helmet

Pretty sure this will be the subject of a future Las Vegas heist movie.

We also ask Mahrous about the resort’s popular buffet, and when it might return.

Next up, we hear from Tim Arnold, owner of the Pinball Hall of Fame.

The Pinball Hall of Fame’s new location has quietly opened on the Las Vegas Strip, with hundreds more games than the attraction’s previous location. Here’s an exclusive peek inside.

There’s also an interview with John Lohmann, owner of The 35 Cinema inside the Nerd Lounge at Neonopolis.

This quirky little theater shows films on, gasp, film, and is the only movie theater in the world where the, gasp, projector sits in the theater.

Cinema 35 Neonopolis

The youths are so freaked out right now.

Here’s more about this quirky retro gem in downtown Las Vegas.

We round out the episode with exclusive skinny, perfunctory news and a “Listicle of the Week” that tells critics of Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Loop where to stow it.

When was the last time you listened to a podcast that third world countries sometimes use to torture dissidents? Here’s your chance!

Listen up and tide yourself over until your next Las Vegas visit.