bombshell one of the biggest to hit Vegas
Jeff Simpson, Our partners at The Las Vegas Sun
VEGAS, Nev. – In the nearly eight years I've
spent covering the casino industry, there have been few
public announcements as dramatic as the short announcement
made last Monday afternoon by Kirk Kerkorian's investment
arm, Tracinda Corp.
wants to buy Bellagio and CityCenter, and wants to "pursue
strategic alternatives" for the rest of MGM Mirage,
which is 56 percent owned by the 89-year-old billionaire.
Las Vegas business news, that's a thunderbolt, ranking right
up there with the big announcements and stories that have
shaken the resort business during my time in the city.
Kerkorian announcing he was making a play in 2000 for Mirage
Resorts - his MGM Grand eventually bought Mirage.
Station Casinos executives announcing they were refusing
to appear at a 2000 Missouri Gaming Commission hearing they
were ordered to attend. Station soon had to sell its two
Missouri riverboats to avoid the likely loss of their licenses.
Macau announcing that two Las Vegas operators, Wynn Resorts
and a partnership involving Venetian owner Las Vegas Sands,
would be joining longtime monopolist Stanley Ho in concessions
to build casinos in the Chinese enclave.
the 2004 announcements when Boyd Gaming Corp. bought Coast
Casinos, MGM Mirage bought Mandalay Resort Group and Harrah's
Entertainment bought Caesars Entertainment.
last week's disclosure from Kerkorian, those announcements
came with little or no warning, and made for a different
kind of news from other stories that make big news in the
casino business - resort openings, tower implosions and
dramatic regulatory hearings among them.
what does Kerkorian's announcement mean for MGM Mirage and
the casino business?
guess - and a guess is just what it is - is that Kerkorian
will end up with CityCenter and Bellagio. It wouldn't surprise
me if the rest of the company were sold to private equity
firms and taken private (like Harrah's Entertainment is
doing), with Kerkorian possibly taking a stake.
cool thing and one surprising thing struck me about Kerkorian's
cool thing about Kerkorian's gambit is that if he did take
ownership of CityCenter and Bellagio, he'd join fellow billionaires
Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn at the top of the resort
pecking order in Las Vegas, with each controlling one of
the top three money-making properties in Las Vegas (Bellagio
is first, Wynn Las Vegas second and Venetian third). And
each would have his own under-construction properties destined
to enter the market right at the top (CityCenter will certainly
be the biggest money - maker, with Adelson's Palazzo and
Wynn's Encore locks to enter the top six). Three guys, the
six top properties on the Strip - that's nice.
surprising thing is that Kerkorian's bid doesn't include
the MGM Mirage partnership stake in the Macau subconcession
with Pansy Ho. Kerkorian's purchase of the subconcession
stake would make the parallels with the holdings of Adelson
and Wynn even more apt.
most other columnists in the state will presumably use their
ink today criticizing the inability of the biennial follies
in Carson City to accomplish the people's business, let
me take a moment to applaud one good move taken by the Legislature
and Gov. Jim Gibbons.
Gibbons and his predecessor Kenny Guinn screwed up the appointment
of a member of the Gaming Control Board, with each executive
naming an appointee to fill a seat vacated at the exact
instant Guinn's term ended and Gibbons' began, legislators
took action, passing Assembly Bill 179 unanimously in the
Assembly and the Senate. The bill, which Gibbons signed,
extended the term of Gaming Control Board members so future
executives won't be tempted to reprise the shenanigans employed
by Guinn and Gibbons.
were sold on the idea by gaming law students at UNLV's Boyd
School of Law, who generously credited a column I wrote
for inspiring their decision to draft a bill extending the
you, lawmakers, and thank you, Boyd law students.