Category Archives: Las Vegas Hotels

Hard Rock, MGM Resorts Rumored Contenders for Venetian and Palazzo Buy

It’s no secret bajillionaire Sheldon Adelson is looking to sell Venetian and Palazzo, but what’s news is who’s in the running to buy them.

Our sources share Hard Rock International has expressed interest, along with MGM Resorts.

Venetian Las Vegas gondola

Given the current economic climate, we thought Venetian could be up the canal without a paddle, but apparently not.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas casino closed Feb. 3, 2020 to make way for Virgin Las Vegas.

At the time, Hard Rock International didn’t have the rights to use the Hard Rock brand for a Las Vegas hotel and casino, but they bought back the rights in May 2020.

Hard Rock International has been the subject of numerous casino purchase rumors for months, including reports they’ve kicked the tires at Cosmopolitan, Bally’s and Planet Hollywood.

The tribe has said in no uncertain terms it intends to return to the Las Vegas Strip, and a purchase of Venetian and Palazzo would be doing so in grand fashion.

Hard Rock Las Vegas closed

Hard Rock wants to be back in Vegas as much as you do.

MGM Resorts is saddled with a significant amount of debt, more than $11.3 billion, but that hasn’t kept it from floating an $11 billion offer to acquire a British gaming company, Entain.

The offer was rebuffed, but still. Somebody’s got a little spending money thanks to the involvement of Barry Diller’s IAC. IAC owns about 12 percent of MGM Resorts stock, worth about $1 billion.

The asking price for Venetian and Palazzo is $6 billion. The deal would also include the the Sands Expo Convention Center.

Quite a value given these are two of the premier Las Vegas casino resorts.

MGM lion

An MGM Resorts purchase of Venetian and Palazzo would surely cause a furor. Oh, come on, no extra points for a combined “fur” and “roar” pun? Your impossible pun standards are duly noted.

Rumors always fly when a casino’s up for sale, so we’ll be watching closely as this saga unfolds.

The sale of Venetian and Palazzo will be a big shift in Las Vegas, as Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson shifts his attention to legalizing gambling in Texas and shaking his real money maker, Asia.

Las Vegas accounts for just 13 percent of Las Vegas Sands revenue.

We reached out to Las Vegas Sands, Hard Rock International and MGM Resorts but have not heard back yet.

While Las Vegas Sands has not confirmed who’s expressed interest in purchasing Venetian and Palazzo, the rumor mill has sparked some fun speculation around the possible future of these beloved Las Vegas destinations. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Update (1/1/21): A source familiar with the situation shares Hard Rock International (Seminole tribe) is exploring a deal with Blackstone REIT for Venetian/Palazzo. Blackstone already owns several Las Vegas resorts, including Cosmopolitan, MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay. Early word is the Seminole’s would contribute $2 billion to the purchase (the asking price is $6 billion), and manage the resorts. We’re also hearing Hard Rock is reaching out to industry executives to gauge interest in coming onboard. If this deal proceeds, it’s likely Hard Rock would find another partner for the convention side of the business. In related news, Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson is stepping away from the business for medical reasons. It seems likely his condition played a part in the decision to sell off the Las Vegas assets of Las Vegas Sands.

Downtown Grand Halts Table Games Midweek

In another lovely sign of the challenges facing Las Vegas casinos at the moment, Downtown Grand has stopped operating its table games on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

While Downtown Grand’s casino table games area has never really been considered lively, at least they had one, and the experience was always enjoyable.

Downtown Grand

We love Downtown Grand’s casino because it’s quiet. Just not closed quiet, please.

Downtown Grand is the latest casino grappling with weak demand mid-week. Winter is always slow in Las Vegas, but without NFR and conventions, we’re pretty much screwed.

Adjusting table games hours can help reduce labor costs, and slot machines end up doing the heavy lifting on revenue generation for casinos.

For example, Circus Circus bailed on its table games mid-week. The worst part is all the kids are now limited to the definitely-not-gambling games in the midway. Bummer!

Circus Circus

A casino without table games is like an “O” without a “69.”

Hotel towers are partially closing as well. Mandalay Bay, Mirage and Park MGM close their hotels midweek, for example.

Encore also closed midweek due to soft demand.

Palazzo recently announced it would temporarily close its hotel tower seven days a week.

Rooms, schmooms, don’t take away our roulette, blackjack and craps! We need something to do after our chicken parm at Triple George.

Downtown Grand’s situation is particularly interesting because it recently opened a new hotel tower. While we’re pretty sure Downtown Grand has never earned a dollar of profit from its casino, it’s had strong demand for lodging in the past, hence the expansion.

Sadly, the new tower opened in the middle of the pandemic.

Downtown Grand hotel tower

Come hell or high water, Vegas keeps making new things.

It feels like Las Vegas is being tested.

Hang in there, Downtown Grand. We’re rooting for you, and we’ll be by to try our hand at those excellent video poker machines at Furnace bar soon.

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas May Delay Opening (Again)

Damn it. It looks like Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will delay its opening, again.

The resort, formerly Hard Rock Las Vegas, was set to open Jan. 15, 2021, but Richard Bosworth, President and CEO of the casino’s owner, JC Hospitality, has informed employees they may have to push that date back due to concerning predictions by health agencies and recent directives from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak.

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas pool

We are currently experiencing an epic level of bummed about another delay in the opening of Virgin Las Vegas.

In an internal memo, Bosworth said, “While the current restrictions put forth by the Governor are only scheduled for three weeks, there could be an extension if there is no improvement in the COVID-19 crisis. Either way, a slowdown in county services and the inability to have gatherings with over 50 attendees will likely impact many of our pre-opening activities.

The missive continues a wee more ominously, “Additionally, we have learned today through both the CDC and John Hopkins University that the next surge is projected to occur in early January, right in the middle of our scheduled launch. It is very difficult to know if this prediction is accurate, but it could be extremely disruptive to our opening.”

In his communication, Bosworth touches upon some harsh realities of opening in mid-January.

“We are closely following hotel bookings for January,” the memo says. “With unprecedented low occupancy projections for Las Vegas, it is unclear that if we did open as scheduled, there would be enough business to support scheduling even 50% of our staff.”

Richard Bosworth

Our heart goes out to you and the team, Boz. Yes, he said we can call him that.

Bosworth says the final decision has yet to be made, but given the circumstances, it seems prudent to wait a bit rather than opening and being crushed by capacity limits and ongoing travel restrictions.

No new potential opening date for Virgin Las Vegas has been shared.

Bosworth says to staffers, “Making the decision to delay is very painful for all of us. As I have stated before, we want to start ringing our cash registers and for all of you to start earning a great living. While I am not able to determine a new opening date at this time, it could be three weeks or more beyond the original date of January 15th.”

It appears our collective suck won’t end with the end of 2020.

Bar at Commons Club

We really, really wanted to have a drink here in January.

This new casino resort is shaping up to be a sweet new offering (including an enticing collection of bars and restaurants), and while it’s disappointing to hear we probably won’t be able to get inside this Virgin in mid-January, it’s something to look forward to, and we could all use more things to look forward to.

Update: Our sources say Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will open no later than April 7, 2021, although it could open sooner.

Wynn’s Red Card Loyalty Club Set for Rebrand as Wynn Rewards

Wynn Resorts says it will roll out a revamp of its loyalty club program on Dec. 21, 2020.

The casino’s Red Card will now be called Wynn Rewards.

Details are scant about how the rebranded loyalty club will differ from the existing one.

It seems the overhauled Wynn Rewards will have tiers, but we thought the Red Card already had tiers. We clearly don’t get out enough.

Wynn Rewards

Casino loyalty clubs in one sentence: Play more, get more stuff.

A teaser on the Twitters says, “The Rewards will be worth the wait. Red Card will soon become Wynn Rewards with more ways to earn Five-Star resort experiences, more rewards and more benefits.”

It’s likely the change to its loyalty club was sparked by challenges related to the company’s Encore Boston Harbor.

Results at that casino were hugely disappointing, even prior to the pandemic, and company leaders admitted it was due, in part, to the company’s lack of experience with regional casinos.

“High-frequency” markets, where locals visit often, are a very different animal than Wynn’s business in Las Vegas.

Encore Boston Harbor lost $34.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. The resort opened at a cost of $2.6 billion. Yeah, it’s awkward.

The fact is Wynn Resorts hasn’t had to market all that much before. Wynn and Encore are world-class destinations, and that “Five-Star” reputation does a lot of the heavy lifting on the marketing side.

Marketing Wynn and Encore is like marketing the iPhone. People just sort of show up.

Now, Wynn Resorts is rolling up its sleeves and getting into the grind of attracting grinders, discerning locals who need more perks to attract their gambling dollars.

The company has already reduced table minimums, made parking free and added more value-oriented fare at Encore Boston Harbor.

It’s worth noting parking at Wynn and Encore is free, too, and we wouldn’t get mad if these casinos reduced table minimums here, too.

More details about the new loyalty club program are expected on Dec. 1, 2020, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled. Which is a really creepy way of saying “be on alert,” but just go with it.

Update (12/2/20): Here are some details about the perks associated with the new Wynn Rewards.

Wynn Rewards

Aspirational perks up in here.

Rio Las Vegas to Reopen Dec. 22, Mostly

There are just a handful of Las Vegas casinos that haven’t reopened since the shutdown on March 18, 2020 due to the pandemic.

A glaring omission from the Caesars Entertainment roster of Vegas casinos has been Rio, but now the off-Strip casino has announced it will be back online as of Dec. 22, 2020.

That’s right. It took a pandemic to make people miss the Rio, and now she’s coming back. Well, most of her, anyway. But let’s not get bogged down in details.

Rio

Let’s Rio again, already.

As with a number of Las Vegas casinos, Rio’s reopening will have some caveats.

The hotel part of Rio will only operate stays Thursday through Monday.

On the bright side, the casino will be open seven days a week. It’s worth noting Caesars was careful not to say its table games would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Places like
Circus Circus have dramatically cut back their table games hours due to soft demand.

Rio view

One of the best things about the Rio is the view from the Rio.

A very bright side to the Rio reopening is one of our favorite Vegas shows, Penn & Teller, will relaunch as well.

Penn & Teller

Welcome back, miscreants.

Chippendales, not so much. We trust it’s because the show is a little too interactive.

Poor Chippendales guys. With their show closed, how are they going to meet women now? The struggle is real.

Chippendales

Here, a Chippendales dancer socially distances himself from his clothing.

“Wow” and the Comedy Cellar will not reopen when Rio does.

Restaurant options will be limited to: All-American Bar & Grille, Hash House A Go Go, VooDoo Steak and the Sports Deli.

Off the table for now are the Carnival World Buffet, Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho, Pho Da Nang Vietnamese Kitchen, KJ Dim Sum & Seafood and Royal India Bistro.

Royal India Bistro

One of the most underrated restaurants in Vegas is going to be a minute.

Many of the Rio’s bars will reopen, including Shutters, iBar, Purple Zebra, Masquerade and the Race & Sports Book Bar.

Self-parking will remain free, valet will remain closed.

Rio Kiss Minigolf

Sorry, tongue fans. No mention of Kiss minigolf reopening.

It’s worth noting that while Caesars Entertainment continues to operate Rio, the company no longer owns it. Rio is owned by Dreamscape Companies, from the folks at Imperial Companies, a real estate investment company.

For that matter, Caesars Entertainment isn’t even really owned by Caesars Entertainment anymore. The company recently merged with Eldorado Resorts.

Mental gymnastics aside, and despite the limited dining options at Rio, it will be great to have her back.

Given the closure of Palms (it still hasn’t reopened, and no date has been set to do so), it’s been a little dreary on that part of Flamingo Road.

The return of Rio and Penn & Teller means Las Vegas is slowly getting its VooDoo back.

Resorts World Drops New Renderings of Pool, Nightclub and Restaurants

Resorts World continues to titillate with sweet renderings of the Las Vegas casino resort opening in summer 2021.

This time, we get a glimpse of the $4.3 billion resort’s dayclub, Ayu.

Resorts World dayclub

Damn it, never should’ve sold that Ab Roller.

As you know, “Ayu” means “beautiful” in Javanesse.

And as you also know, Javanesse is the language spoken by people at Starbucks.

Next up is the entrance to Zouk Las Vegas nightclub.

Zouk is a well-known nightlife brand in Asia, with high profile venues in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, none of which we would be able to locate on a map.

Thanks a lot, public education.

Resorts World nightclub

Behold the newest place in Vegas to get your recommended allowance of oontz.

To the credit of Resorts World, they went outside the usual suspects to manage their nightclub.

The state of nightclubs in Vegas has been in flux for some time, with the closure of several Vegas fixtures, including Intrigue at Wynn, 1 Oak at Mirage, Hyde at Bellagio and others. The most recent implosion was Kaos at Palms.

New blood may be just what’s needed to shake up the town’s nightclub formula.

Here’s a shot from inside Zouk.

Resorts World nightclub

Zouk is a kind of dance music from the Caribbean. It’s also the sound your withdrawal slip makes when it goes up the vacuum tube at your bank.

There’s also Fuhu restaurant. According to the official Web site, “Fuhu is a vibe dining restaurant, conceptualized by the team behind the world famous number three nightclub in the world, Zouk Singapore.”

Nightclubs and restaurants? Echoes of Hakkasan and Tao up in here.

Resorts World Fuhu

Fuhu means “lucky tiger” in Mandarin. We like it, despite the whole “vibe dining” thing.

Among the new renderings is RedTail, which we’re pretty sure needs a space in it, but we’re going to play along.

Speaking of play, RedTail is a “social gaming bar,” where guests can mingle and playing games like beer pong, darts and pool.

Oh, stop judging, that idea has got to succeed at some point. Somewhere. Maybe even in Las Vegas. At some point. Have you seen the numbers at Dave & Buster’s? Neither have we, but you see our point.

RedTail will have hooch, which is really the important part, so there’s that.

Resorts World RedTail

We’re ready to get some consensual RedTail.

The renderings are sexy, and the rooms we saw in the sales center at Resorts World were appealing as well.

Bringing 3,500 rooms to The Strip when visitation was already on the wane in Las Vegas prior to the pandemic means Resorts World will face some challenges.

The resort will also rely heavily on conventions (near zero in Las Vegas right now), nightlife (nightclubs and dayclubs are closed) and entertainment (no headliners are currently performing on the Las Vegas Strip).

Resorts World seems to be using a tried-and-true playbook for Las Vegas megaresorts. The question is whether that playbook actually works anymore, especially in light of recent world
events and the proliferation of legal gambling across the country.

Resorts World Las Vegas

The size and scope of Resorts World has been fluid since it was first announced in March 2013. This is about what it will look like on opening day in summer 2021.

Resorts World is hoping pent-up demand will draw visitors to its shiny new destination on The Strip.

We’re rooting hard for Resorts World. Let’s hope science, visitor confidence and good luck align to help make this new Las Vegas casino resort a success.