Diversification plans

The landscape of the Las Vegas Strip will continue to change, as MGM Resorts International has said it is looking to sell The Mirage. During the company’s quarterly conference call on Wednesday, CEO Bill Hornbuckle said that the company feels it has enough exposure on The Strip.

“As such, we are currently in the early stages of a process to sell the operations of the Mirage,” he added.

The shuffling of ownership of Las Vegas casinos has been a trend in recent years, but has been heating up since the end of COVID-19 closures as the economic climate in the gambling capital of the world improves.

The decision is simply a strategic one, trying to diversify more by reducing its footprint on the Strip. And MGM operates plenty of properties there: MGM Grand, Bellagio, Aria, Vdara, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, New York-New York, and Park MGM.

And in late September, MGM announced that it agreed to acquire the operations of The Cosmopolitan for $1.625 billion.

Significant part of Vegas history

As for The Mirage, Hornbuckle did not say what sort of price his company is seeking. When it was originally built, it cost $630 million, the most expensive casino-hotel ever at the time. It was also funded partially with Wall Street junk bonds, a first for a casino. It was a unique property at the time of its November 1989 opening, starting the era of the mega resort casino and helping revive the Las Vegas Strip.

MGM (then MGM Grand) acquired Mirage Resorts from Steve Wynn for $4.4 billion.

The Mirage has been home to two of the most famous entertainment acts in Las Vegas history. The Siegfried & Roy show ran from early 1990 to 2003, shutting down after Roy Horn was tragically mauled by one of his tigers. And since 2006, the property has been home to Cirque du Soleil’s Love show, an interpretive circus/stage performance to Beatles music (and, in my opinion, the best Cirque show I’ve ever seen).

MGM would only be selling the operations of The Mirage. The real estate is owned by MGM Growth Properties, a REIT spun off from MGM Resorts International. It will soon be owned by VICI Properties (spin off from Caesars), as VICI has bought MGM Growth for $17.2 billion.

The Mirage also once had one of the more iconic poker rooms in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, MGM announced a year ago that it, along with the poker rooms at Excalibur and Mandalay Bay, would close permanently. They had been closed since the pandemic-forced shutdowns in March 2020.

Many poker rooms have since reopened, but the lack of profitability compared to other parts of the gaming floor was likely the main factor in MGM’s decision to keep these three closed for good.

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