Content With ‘Exposure’ In Las Vegas, MGM Resorts Has Begun Process Of Selling The Mirage

Written By Marc Meltzer on November 4, 2021

During the MGM Resorts International earnings call this week, CEO Bill Hornbuckle revealed that the company will be selling The Mirage. Hornbuckle said the following:

“I mentioned in the past that we are happy with the amount of exposure we currently have in Las Vegas. As such, we are currently in the early stages of a process to sell the operations of the Mirage”

It should be noted that MGM Resorts doesn’t own the land. MGM Growth Properties owns the land, and the real estate arm of MGM has been sold to VICI. That deal will close next year and VICI will own the land.

MGM Resorts will only be selling the operations at The Mirage. This could change the profile of who might buy the property.

Hornbuckle did not mention potential buyers the company may be talking to. Whoever purchases operations of The Mirage will likely bring a new sportsbook operator to the Vegas Strip.

Why MGM Resorts is selling The Mirage

During the call, Hornbuckle addressed selling The Mirage as opposed to other Las Vegas properties. The answer appears to be relatively straightforward.

The Mirage has been considered one of the premier assets for MGM Resorts. The recent purchase of operations at The Cosmopolitan allows the company to essentially swap one luxury property for another.

MGM Resorts’ property mix will remain the same after both sales are complete. There will still be hotel rooms in all price ranges for its customers:

  • Top tier: Aria, Bellagio, The Cosmoplitan
  • Mid and lower tiers: Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, New York-New York, Park MGM

This variety allows MGM Resorts the ability to market to all visitors with budgets of any size. It also allows the company to keep its properties closest to T-Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium. These are important venues to help sell hotel rooms and get more BetMGM customers.

Who are the contenders to buy The Mirage?

There has been a lot of discussion about new sportsbook operators coming to Nevada over the past year. In-person sports betting account registration is still an issue, but The Mirage is an attractive property for more than a couple of reasons.

First, The Mirage has one of the largest retail sportsbooks on the Vegas Strip. This should be attractive to any retail sportsbook operator. Second, the center strip location of The Mirage is optimal as long as in-person sports betting account registration is required.

There have been many names in the rumor mill to buy a Las Vegas casino in the past couple of years. Here are four casino and sportsbook operators who may consider buying operations of The Mirage:

Hard Rock International

Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen has been talking about  Hard Rock opening a Las Vegas property for a while. The company purchased the full intellectual property rights to use the Hard Rock Las Vegas Hotel and Casino name.

There will eventually be a Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. The company appears as though it would prefer to own the real estate as well. This may not be the right deal for them.

Golden Nugget (and DraftKings)

Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta considered buying Caesars Entertainment in 2019. It’s possible Fertitta could move his attention to The Mirage. He could bring along DraftKings as his sportsbook partner. If this happens, The Mirage would be home to the first DraftKings Sportsbook on the Vegas Strip.

DraftKings might be able to buy the casino themselves. MGM Resorts may prefer cash to the mostly stock deals DraftKings has been making lately.

Penn National Gaming (and Barstool)

Penn National Gaming (PNG) sold operations of Tropicana to Bally’s this year and no longer has a Vegas Strip presence. However, the company is interested in returning to Las Vegas. PNG previously bid on The Cosmopolitan. During it’s recent earnings call, CEO Jay Snowden is open to buying or operating a Vegas Strip casino.

Prior to the sale of Tropicana, PNG commented it will only open a Barstool Sportsbook in Las Vegas if it’s on the Vegas Strip. The Mirage offers a particularly interesting sportsbook layout with California Pizza Kitchen overlooking the sportsbook. This could become a Barstool Sportsbook with a retail One Bite Pizza location or another Barstool Sports Bar.

Boyd Gaming (and FanDuel)

Boyd Gaming doesn’t operate a Vegas Strip casino at the moment. The company has been in the rumor mill to possibly buy a property on Las Vegas Boulevard. Buying operations of The Mirage could be a great way for the company to introduce its sports betting partner, FanDuel Sportsbook, to the Las Vegas market.

Boyd Gaming owns the real estate for its other properties. However, The Mirage offers a compelling opportunity for the company to have a Vegas Strip presence for the first time since it sold the land that was once home to the Stardust in 2013.

Photo by AP / Jae C. Hong
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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