Virgin Said To Be Buying Hard Rock Casino, Bringing Branson Touch To Vegas

Written By Jessica Welman on January 19, 2018
hand holding Virgin logo

Richard Branson might just be bringing his golden touch and Virgin brand to Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Vital Vegas is reporting there is a deal in place for Virgin to purchase the off-Strip property. The report comes after months of sale rumors for Hard Rock in addition to a public announcement Virgin was vetting an undisclosed casino back in November.

Official announcement of Hard Rock sale forthcoming

Vital Vegas reported the sale based on insider information. The site did go on to say it expects an official announcement soon.

Rumors of a sale first started almost a year ago, with the mainstream media picking up the story last summer. The current owner of the property is Brookfield Asset Management. The global firm took control of the property in 2011.

Hard Rock’s location off Las Vegas Blvd. has always been one of the Nevada casino’s major drawbacks. Amidsts concerns about revenue, it is not surprising Brookfield would be looking to sell.

Virgin previously announced plans to get into Vegas

Last fall, Virgin Hotels confirmed it was in the due diligence process of vetting a property in Las Vegas. The company is doing this in tandem with both Bosworth Hospitality Partners, LLC, and Juniper Capital Partner, LLC.

This will be the first land-based casino for Virgin if the deal goes through. It is not the company’s first foray into gambling though.

Virgin Casino currently operates online under Tropicana Casino’s online casino license in New Jersey. The site offers a wide variety of online slots and casino games. It does not offer online poker.

When Virgin first announced it was making moves in Vegas, Hard Rock immediately surfaced in the rumor mill as the likely contender. Given Virgin’s propensity for acquiring properties on the cheap, the casino certainly fits the profile.

Can the Virgin strategy work in Las Vegas?

Branson’s approach to the airline industry helped Virgin Airlines become a smashing success. The airline is far from the venture capital firm’s only asset. The group dabbles in just about everything, from books to balloon rides.

On the company website, Virgin lists six elements that define the business model:

  1. Identify opportunities in geographies or market segments where consumers are underserved

  2. Work with entrepreneurs to identify and commercialise innovative and exciting new services, business models and technologies.

  3. Provide financial, operational and marketing experience to our portfolio companies, enabling rapid growth either organically, through acquisitions, or brand-led turnarounds

  4. Provide access to Virgin’s global network to facilitate best practice sharing and co-operation between portfolio businesses

  5. Leverage the Virgin brand and association with Sir Richard Branson to accelerate consumer take-up of new business launches

  6. Bring the unique Virgin touch, purpose-driven approach and customer service prowess to portfolio businesses

In a town like Vegas, customer service is everything. Given that has become Virgin’s calling card over the years, it does seem possible a Virgin-branded casino can survive in the competitive marketplace.

Moreover, by positioning itself as a brick and mortar, it can enter into the Nevada online gaming market, should it choose to do so. While online poker is basically a monopoly and the sports betting app market is rather saturated, if anyone can make space in the market, it is Branson.

Photo by  Ink Drop /

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Jessica Welman Avatar
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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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