Tag Archives: MGM Mirage

Mum’s the Word for Disappearing Las Vegas Magician Lance Burton

As previously reported by Las Vegas Backstage Access, the Monte Carlo magician has indeed called it quits after headlining and performing about 15,000 Las Vegas shows for the last 14 years.   Lance Burton will close his Monte Carlo run in Las Vegas on Sept. 4. 

Burton reports that the decision to leave was his, though he remains guarded and vague when it comes to providing specific reasons for his departure.  

“About three ago I had a moment of clarity when it just all became clear to me that I’m not on the same page as the hotel,” Burton said, adding, he doesn’t plan to badmouth the hotel where he spent at least a third of his career and has a deep emotional connection. 

Some say that Burton and MGM Mirage officials were at odds over budgeting and cost-cutting issues, but, Burton says, that’s not the primary reason he gave notice.


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Where are the Super Bowl Parties in Las Vegas? Everywhere!

Why spend thousands of hard earned dollars to go to Miami when you catch all the action literally everywhere in Las Vegas for a comparative mere pittance? 

Apparently, thousand of people are of the same persuasion. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority anticipate 278,000 people to visit Las Vegas this weekend- that’s a whopping 13.5 percent increase from last year’s visitor totals.  The nongaming impact from all those visitors is expected to be up 2.4 percent to $89.7 million. 

So, why don’t you see advertising on Las Vegas’ Super Bowl activities?  It’s simply because of the National Football League’s half-baked and business-choking stance against sports betting, the league has threatened legal action against Las Vegas casinos that use the Super Bowl name in their promotions of parties and events surrounding Sunday’s game. But that hasn’t deterred casinos from promoting “Big Game” activities at their properties or kept Super Bowl bets from becoming a major draw at local sports books. 

Station Casinos, South Point and The Orleans, for instance, will show the game in a ballroom that is open to the public. NFL rules do not allow companies to charge admission to rooms where the game is being shown. 

Las Vegas casinos also can have free but private viewing parties for invited guests and VIPs away from the sports book. 

Station Casinos, which owns 10 Las Vegas casinos, are holding viewing parties for invited guests and are offering $1 hot dogs and $1 Budweisers. 

The Las Vegas Hilton is also having a huge viewing party. 

The Palms will hold its football viewing party for VIPs in its Fantasy Suites, including the Hardwood Suite where guests can relax and shoot hoops during breaks in the game. 

The Hard Rock Hotel, which just opened 824 new hotel rooms and 40,000 square feet of new casino space, is having a public party in Wasted Space and a party for invited guests at The Joint. 

For Boyd Gaming Corp., whose properties include Sam’s Town, The Orleans and Suncoast, this weekend is one of the biggest on its winter calendar. 

“It’s far more than just the sports book,” Boyd spokesman David Strow said. “On Sunday, you’ll be able to see the game pretty much in every nook and cranny of the casino.” 

MGM Mirage is also expecting a big weekend even without a lot of extra hype. The gaming company said it has sold out or is near selling out at its 10 Strip properties even though it is not holding any special game-day parties or promotions, other than offering free T-shirts at Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s with $25 parlay bets. 

Nothing boosts business at Las Vegas sports books like the Super Bowl.  With a record haul predicted for the contest (previous article on Feb. 4, 2010 by Las Vegas Backstage Access), still wagering has never reached the elusive $100 million mark.  It has steadily increased over the years, from around $50 million in 1989 (when the San Francisco 49ers nipped the Cincinnati Bengals) to $71.5 million in 2002 (when the New England Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams) to a record $94.5 million bet on Super Bowl XL in 2006, when Pittsburgh beat Seattle.   Maybe this will be the year?

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Harrah’s Entertainment Plans to Buy Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. has filed an application to purchase the struggling Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said Monday. 

The casino giant has formed a new subsidiary, PHW Las Vegas LLC, with the intent of taking over the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. PHW filed the application to casino regulators last week, a person at the Control Board said. 

The Las Vegas Planet Hollywood is a separate entity from the restaurant chain, which has locations around the world. 

Harrah’s began pursuing Planet Hollywood in September when it purchased a $140 million piece of Planet Hollywood’s $870 million debt for an undisclosed amount from Goldman Sachs Group. 

A person close to the situation said that it appears the slice of debt Harrah’s purchased could give the casino giant enough influence over the other lenders to control the property. 

Harrah’s controls six contiguous Las Vegas casinos just north of Planet Hollywood. Those properties are across the street from City Center, the $8.5 billion MGM Mirage resort has been opening all this week in Las Vegas. 

In an email to employees last week, Harrah’s Chief Executive Gary Loveman reportedly said the location made the distressed Planet Hollywood an attractive acquisition. 

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. currently manages the project’s hotel and also has a minority stake in Planet Hollywood. 

Restaurateur Robert Earl, who developed the movie-themed Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, and investment manager Bay Harbour Management acquired the Las Vegas property in 2007.

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CityCenter Too Big for Mr. Big– Las Vegas?

Turns out Sin City is far from recession-proof. Citigroup Global Markets analyst Anil Daswani has doubts that MGM Mirage’s latest offering on the Las Vegas Strip, the gargantuan $8.5 billion CityCenter, planned for official opening and much fanfare on Dec. 16, will have tourists racing to plunk down what little cash they have left. 

“With CityCenter to open within a month … we do not believe that CityCenter will successfully drive visitation without incentives,” Daswani said in a note. “In our view, 5,000+ new rooms will be hard to absorb.” 

CityCenter is the largest privately financed development in the U.S. 

However, noting visits to Las Vegas are trending down 7% in 2009 while unemployment levels have now hit double digits, having some of the highest unemployment figures in the U.S., Mr. Daswani is concerned the new building will cannibalize demand from MGM’s existing properties while adding pressure to room rates.

Citi has a “sell” rating for MGM Mirage.

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Only One Gambling Site in Las Vegas’ New $8.5 Billion CityCenter

AriaIs gambling in Las Vegas becoming passé with the advent of new venues? 

Gaming regulators in Las Vegas last Friday granted preliminary licensing approval for the only casino component inside the $8.5 billion CityCenter project and suggested the revenue mix might be sharply different from the traditional gaming-driven environment that has existed since Las Vegas’ creation. 

During a hearing that lasted more than two hours, the Nevada Gaming Control Board was told not to expect additional gaming inside the multiple hotel, high-rise residential and entertainment complex. 

Aria, pictured, CityCenter’s 4,004-room centerpiece, was designed as the project’s only casino. Vdara and Mandarin Oriental are nongaming hotels, and Veer Tower is strictly residential. 

Executives from MGM Mirage and Dubai World, its 50-50 partner in the development, explained the CityCenter concept, using a promotional sales video and previewing Aria’s first television advertisement in what will be a $20 million marketing campaign. 

Gaming is not the focal point of the 67-acre project. The casino at Aria, roughly the size of Bellagio, will have only 145 table games and 1,940 slot machines, half of which will be linked to a server-based gaming platform. 

Aria President Bill McBeath said the casino’s revenue projections are modeled with Bellagio, but the CityCenter casino has fewer slot machines. He said Aria is designed to have private gambling salons like other MGM Mirage high-end casinos, but the rooms will not be used immediately. 

“There will be cross-marketing between the properties,” McBeath said. Aria will host MGM Mirage’s private Chinese New Year party for high-end customers at the MGM Grand, Bellagio and other company resorts. 

McBeath said Aria’s slot machines are projected to produce roughly $320 win per unit per day. 

During MGM Mirage’s quarterly earning conference call with analysts, City Center Chief Executive Officer Bobby Baldwin said Aria would produce $1.2 billion in revenue in 2010. 

“The (revenue) projections are optimistic,” Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said. “But they seem reasonable.” 

The three-member control board then recommended unanimous approval for Aria. The Nevada Gaming Commission will consider the recommendation this week.

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CityCenter in Las Vegas to Cut Condo Prices by 30 Percent

Developers of the $8.5 billion CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip plan a 30 percent price cut on condos there that people have already agreed to buy, just help close the deals during the recession. 

Company officials announced that CityCenter, co-owned by MGM Mirage and Dubai World, will begin closing on the nearly 2,400 units that have been built in two boutique hotels and two residential towers in January at the reduced prices. More than half of the units are under contract. The price cut roughly parallels the decline in Nevada’s real estate market since the units first went on sale in January 2007. 

The price reductions apply to the 227 units at Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, the 670 units at the Veer Towers and the nearly 1,500 condo units at the 57-story Vdara Condo Hotel. 

A typical one-bedroom unit of about 800 square feet at the Vdara is now selling for about $674,000, according to an analysis by Bill Lerner of Union Gaming Group. 

Other parts of the 67-acre project include a 4,000-room casino-resort, convention space, hotels and a retail mall. The project is to start opening in December. 

Several casino industry analysts said MGM Mirage and Dubai World, the development arm of the government of Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates, had to make such a move to close real estate sales in a down market that has been particularly tough in Las Vegas. 

Lerner said in late August that the 30 percent price reductions would bring the Vdara’s prices in line with those at the Trump International Hotel down the street and the nearby Palms Place condo-hotel located 1.5 miles west of the Strip. 

Lerner said MGM Mirage might begin pushing those who have committed to buying units at Vdara toward Veer instead. 

CityCenter was originally supposed to have 200 more condo and condo-hotel units atop the Harmon, but that plan was scrapped when developers delayed the opening of the 400-room hotel portion to 2010.

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Las Vegas Billionaires Cry in their Dom Pérignon

The annual Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans for 2009 was released this week.  With deep sadness and regret Las Vegas Backstage Access reports that most Las Vegas gaming luminaries have taken multibillion-dollar net worth shellackings. billionaires

Most blamed their financial woes largely on the stock market’s collapse in 2008 and early 2009. 

Las Vegas Sands Corp. founder, chairman and chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson, 76, was the highest-ranking Nevada resident on the list, coming in at No. 26 with a net worth of $9 billion. 

But even that is chump change in comparison to Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates who tops the Forbes list with a net worth of $50 billion, followed by financier Warren Buffett, who comes in at No. 2 with $40 billion. 

By comparison, Adelson began 2008 as the third-richest person, but Forbes refigured its list later in the year and Adelson fell to 15th with a net worth of $15 billion. In March, when Forbes released its top billionaire list, Adelson was listed with a net worth of $3.4 billion. 

Las Vegas Sands avoided filing bankruptcy nearly a year ago when Adelson invested $1 billion of his own money into the company to make a debt payment. 

Kirk Kerkorian, the 92-year-old Los Angeles billionaire who owns about 43 percent of MGM Mirage, took the largest tumble of all gaming executives on the list, falling from 27th in 2008 with $11.2 billion, to 97th in 2009 with a net worth of $3 billion. 

MGM Mirage’s declining stock since the end of 2007 reduced the value of Kerkorian’s holdings in the company from $11 billion down to $1.5 billion. Other Kerkorian investments in the oil and automotive industries also suffered throughout the year. 

Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman Steve Wynn fell from 118th with $3.4 billion to 141st with $2.3 billion. “Tough year for the king of Las Vegas,” Forbes reported. 

The biggest Las Vegas challenge, according to the magazine, was opening the $2.3 billion Encore last December in the middle of the recession.  

Meanwhile, Wynn cashed out more than $100 million in shares of Wynn Resorts that will be used as part of his upcoming divorce settlement with his wife, Elaine. 

Other Las Vegas gaming industry executives making the list included former Stratosphere owner Carl Icahn, who recently became majority shareholder of Tropicana Entertainment. Icahn was 22nd with $10.5 billion in net worth. 

New York billionaire Donald Trump, who owns the Trump International Las Vegas and 30 percent of the company that controls three Atlantic City casinos, was 158th on the list with $2 billion in net worth. 

Other Las Vegans include Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin, No. 193 with $1.85 billion, and Silverton owner Ed Roski Jr., No. 236 with $1.5 billion, rounded out the list of gaming executives. 

Hilton Hotels scion Barron Hilton, who earned $800 million when the company was sold to Blackstone in 2007 and $300 million from the sale of Harrah’s Entertainment in 2008, is tied with Wynn for 141st on the list with $2.3 billion. 

Curiously, Las Vegas partier and socialite extraordinaire Paris Hilton, and even her pet monkey were left off the list. 

The only other Nevadan listed on the Forbes 400 is Henderson resident Nancy Walton Laurie, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. She was listed in 118th place with $2.6 billion. 

Three members of Mars family, whose family’s company owns the Las Vegas-based Ethel M Chocolate family, tied for 19th place on the list, each with $11 million in net worth. 

Now, a brief moment of silence for all the Las Vegas  billionaires who have lived gold-gilded lives and lost but a smidgeon of their fortunes– and for the majority masses who can’t even count to a billion, or even write it.

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