Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

All Articles Published: May 2007

May 31, 2007

Atlantic City Photo Update

Posted by Hunter

We really don't do a lot of Atlantic City coverage - I've only been there one time myself... Not a place that I would want to visit on a regular basis but I had an interesting day there and a great meal at one of Borgata's gourmet rooms.

Borgata itself was impressive - standing in their casino you would be hard pressed to forget you were on the Jersey shore. It feels like a Mandalay Bay-ish type of place.

Anyway, thanks to reader Tom M., for a slew of photo updates:

Some interesting new projects like an expansion at Borgata, plus of course MGM Mirage's possible entry into the market - AC is hopping!

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May 30, 2007

Las Vegas Construction Update - May 2007

Posted by Hunter

Here's some more info on upcoming Las Vegas construction, based off of filings with the county.

THEPlace - The condo development to sit between Mandalay Bay and Luxor is still on track, despite there not being a peep from them since the initial announcement. Some details on the project stats, which will include a rather large 256 square foot water features.

Hard Rock Condos - Nothing really here - just a request for an extension for the new owner to figure out what they want to do.

Cogent? - Anyone know what this is?

New York New York Nightclub - This is finally coming together, with an indoor/outdoor setup.

Fontainebleau - Work continues as they are asking for a batch plant.

Casino Royale - They want to expand the casino in the back with all sorts of new space.

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May 29, 2007

Detroit Casinos

Posted by detroit1051

Detroit is a 2,000 mile drive from Las Vegas, but it's an interesting market of only three casinos (plus Casino Windsor across the river in Canada) with revenues of $1.3 Billion in 2006. MGM Grand $490 Million, MotorCity Casino $469 Million and Greektown $345 Million. The three commercial casinos are moving into their next phase. The casinos were authorized in the mid-1990's as a source of tax revenue in struggling Detroit. Many operators presented proposals, including Steve Wynn. The three selected were MGM Grand, Mandalalay Resort Group and the Sault Ste Marie Chippewa tribe of Michigan. The three selected companies were required to have local partners, but in effect, the local partners had little power. They did, however, make a lot of money from the very successful casinos. The law permitted the casinos to operate in temporary or interim facilities while they planned and built permanent casinos with hotels. Like many political projects, hotel requirements changed and ultimately were watered down to 400 rooms each. Detroit's former mayor had visions of the casinos being together on the Detroit River, but there was so much opposition that each company went its own way in separate locations. Two of the three casino hotels will open by the end of this year.

More on Detroit's progress and the status of the projects after the jump.

From Wall Street Journal

May 21, 2007 4:39 p.m. EDT
Tracinda to Enter Into Talks
With MGM to Acquire Bellagio
May 21, 2007 4:39 p.m.

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. announced Monday that it intends to enter into negotiations with MGM Mirage to purchase MGM's Bellagio Hotel and Casino and City Center properties.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tracinda said it also wishes to pursue strategic alternatives with respect to its investment in the world's second-largest casino operator, which may include financial restructuring transactions involving all or a substantial portion of the remainder of the company.

Tracinda currently owns 158.8 million shares, or a 56% stake in the Las Vegas-based company, according to the SEC filing.

Tracinda said it has made no decision with respect to any such restructuring transactions and reserves the right not to engage in or approve any transaction.

Shares of the company closed Monday at $62.89.

Updated by Hunter / Tuesday Evening: In an interview with Steve Friess, Bill Weidner from Las Vegas Sands indicated that his company might be interested in The Mirage and Treasure Island if MGM Mirage's properties were to be sold off individually.

Ok - this is getting a bit out of hand. Now, Weidner has actually expressed interest in those two properties in the past. I don't have a link but when the MGM/Mandalay deal was going through, everyone wondered if the FTC would require an asset sale to complete the purchase (they did not in the end). It was at that time he mentioned that LVS would be interested in buying The Mirage and/or TI to include with their portfolio. We know how that story ended.

Of course LVS is interested in The Mirage and TI - and not just a close approximation - these are places that perform very well and have a long established record. I was at The Mirage earlier today for dinner and despite it being a Tuesday, it was quite busy and doing well with occupancy. LVS would do well to score either property but it is so extremely unlikely that there's no point discussing it. Kerkorian's motivations are unknown but it seems more likely that instead of trying to raise cash through selling properties, he's either making a first step toward an LBO for MGM Mirage or it is an attempt to impose a valuation on the company that is closer in line to what he can see as MGM Mirage's rightful place in the market. The latter would be a particularly shrewd move and U'I'm sure we we will discuss these motivations more as we learn more.

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May 21, 2007

Luxor May 2007 - I'd Rather Stay in a Tent

Posted by Hunter

I'm at Luxor for a convention for a few days - it's been awhile since I've stayed here and I've never been that impressed. Stlll, this place has fallen off even more than how I last remember it. My room smells bad, a bed that looks like it came from a military barracks and not even an in-room safe. Wow - the parking lot is probably more hospitable.

MGM Mirage has a TON of work to do if they want to make this place into any sort of a worthwhile endeavor. Honestly, I'm blown away with how bad this room is. Wow.

I'm taking a suggestion from my friend and reader David F. to have an open thread once a week where people can discuss whatever they like without running afoul of posting guidelines, re: staying on topic. If this is successful, we'll do this weekly and of course it would be accompanied by more strict 'on-topic' discussion enforcement on other threads.

The normal posting guidelines apply - civility is not something that we opt out of on any thread and I want to take a harder line on general negativity. I'm not the thought police but I'm trying to prevent all threads devolving into predictable positions, especially on topics related to everyone's favorite four letter word (listed on NASDAQ, of course).

So - enjoy... Discuss anything Vegas related in this trial balloon and we'll see how it goes.

May 18, 2007

"Condo Craze Cools"

Posted by detroit1051

In Business Las Vegas has a story on the slowdown of new condo development in Vegas. The big exception is CityCenter which is still going strong with condo sales and is actually benefitting from the cancellation of "W" on Harmon. Buyers want the Strip!
"That success is evident by MGM Mirage reporting there are more than $1.1 billion in sales out of $2.7 billion in units it has on the market. Some 205 of the 227 residences at Mandarin Oriental have been sold. The Vdara condo hotel has sold 452 of its 1,543 residences and the two Veer Towers have written deals for more than 220 of its 670 condos, said Tony Dennis, executive director of CityCenter's residential division."
Condo Craze Cools

May 16, 2007

New Frontier Sold ; Plaza Going In

Posted by Hunter

Sorry guys, I'm sick and haven't gotten this posted until now.

Here's the low-down:

Frontier has sold and it is likely a Plaza hotel is going in its place.

May 13, 2007

Wynn Las Vegas Dealers Vote to Unionize

Posted by Hunter

In a final vote of 444 to 149, Wynn Las Vegas dealers have voted to unionize. This is the first step in a process that will take some time to be finalized, if it does ever even move past this step.

Either way, it's a big story. We'll see what happens next.

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In a meeting last week between Steve Wynn and his Wynn Las Vegas dealers, the Wynn Resorts chairman and CEO apologized for what he called a 'big mistake' - his changes to the casino tip policy that were enacted last September at the Las Vegas Strip resort and the resulting brouhaha.

Wynn spoke about being tired and worn out by the opening of Wynn Macau as he was making the original decision. He laments the loss of the feeling of family at the company and acknowledges that many there feel betrayed. Calling it the 'wrong solution to the right problem', Wynn then urged the dealers to vote 'No' on the election this weekend that would have their casino dealers join the union.

As we get word of the Wynn vote, we'll keep you updated. Even if the dealers vote yes in a majority, the company still would need to negotiate a contract, which the union has failed to do in the past at other resorts where elections have gone their way.

Update: We have posted the audio of the story, provided by reader Leonard Stern:

Also, Steve Friess posted a story on this topic:

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May 11, 2007

Builder of Cosmopolitan Makes Riviera Bid

Posted by Hunter

Another bid for the Riviera, this time from the folks that are building the Cosmopolitan next to Project City Center.

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Okay, all sorts of updates for today.

First off, some new construction photos from Brian Fey - Encore, Palazzo, etc.. - these are really coming together! - Thanks Brian!!

One photo that got special mention is this Encore shot:

People have been asking what this is.... Well, the plans I saw put the garden area right in that space - this looks to me like an advanced watering system. My guess is that these gardens are special - some kind of 'hook' or feature built into this attraction to make this more interesting than plants in the (fake) ground.

[Ed: Looks like this was even more basic than what we thought. Since we posted this I've been asking around and it sounds like this is based off the data network for the slot machines in the casino portion. Apparently the added casino space has encroached on the garden area and that explains the location... So - more casino, less garden = no story.]

[Ed (again): Looks like VT&T confirms this.]

MGM Grand wants to build another convention center adjacent to their existing facility.

Trump Las Vegas wants to change their floor numbering. This one is funny since it shows how these numbers are totally manipulated for marketing purposes.

Fun with parking at the Cosmo site.

Las Vegas Sands wants to add a pedestrian bridge to the back side of the Sands Expo Center.

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May 9, 2007

Wynn Las Vegas' Spamalot in Trouble?

Posted by Hunter

Well, if this continues, Spamalot at Wynn Las Vegas is probably in trouble.

Of course, many speculated the show might run into the same sort of trouble that 'Avenue Q.' had in the same space.

This is not good news for the show or Wynn Las Vegas, which has struggled with their entertainment offerings from day one.

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May 9, 2007

Harrah's Reports Q12007 Results

Posted by Hunter

It's funny, Harrah's is the largest gaming company in the world and I'm just totally not interested in their quarterlies. Maybe it's because they are so spread out and derive revenue from so many locales - I'm not sure.

Anyway, here's an RJ report on Harrah's luck for Q1, which it seems wasn't so awesome due to Atlantic City.

Harrah's is in the process of going private so pretty soon I won't have to write these stories any more.

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May 7, 2007

Wynn Resorts Swings to Profit for Q12007

Posted by Hunter

Well, they finally got out of the red... Wynn Resorts announced Q1 2007 net income of $58.4 million, compared to a loss of $11.4 million for 2006. Adjusted net income was $72.6 million, on strong results from Wynn Macau and Wynn Las Vegas.

Revenue for the quarter was $635.3 million, up from $277.2 million from a year ago.

The conference call starts in 20 minutes and I will be updating based on anything from that call.

The press release covers all of the interesting details - I will break them down shortly.

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May 7, 2007

Backpack Bomb Explodes at Luxor - 1 Dead

Posted by Hunter

Early this morning an employee removed a backpack that was sitting on their car when it then exploded, killing the owner of the vehicle and injuring another employee.

Was this a bomb? I hate to use the 't-word' but what does this mean?

Update: Sounds like the police think this was directed at this specific person.

Wow, this is an interesting story.

Steve Friess has a note on his blog that says that MGM Mirage's company wide sports book network went down this afternoon, making it impossible to place bets at any MGM Mirage property - this includes Bellagio, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Mandalay Bay, Treasure Island, Monte Carlo, Luxor, Excalibur and Circus Circus.

This comes on the same day as a major boxing event and the Kentucky Derby - two MAJOR betting events.

Now, being in the technology field, I know that these things happen. I also know that these systems all have backup systems and that they train for these outages. I'd love to get some details on how this went down and what happened.

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Well, construction is on going at the Fontainebleau site, even though they have yet to really announce anything.

site plan shows some of the features of the new casino, including a zen garden - no doubt Schaeffer's contribution as he is into that stuff pretty heavily.

This project will be one to watch, no doubt.

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May 5, 2007

Macau Casino Update: April 2007

Posted by Hunter

A big thank you to Drambuie Man for sending in a new report and photos from Macau.

I asked for some more photos of Wynn Macau and the Venetian and we got some good coverage. I can't wait to get out there and see this stuff myself.

The report is after the jump...

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May 5, 2007

Tropicana Brand

Posted by detroit1051

David McKee has his edge back. He discusses Columbia Sussex's adoption of the Tropicana brand for its casino properties. There is a link to's rendering of the proposed Tropicana expansion on the Strip. It's dated April, but I must have missed it.
"Columbia Sussex Does Something Right"

May 4, 2007

Reader Report: Bellagio April 2007

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Aaron_B for providing this write up and photos from his recent trip to Bellagio.

His report follows after the jump and the photos, available at the link below, show off some of the recent construction work. You'll also see some comments on the new car rental facility at LAS.

Thanks Aaron!!

Quick note on the balustrade damage: I remember seeing some of that way back in May 1999, just after opening. I looked out my window and was surprised that it was already cracked.

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MGM Mirage reports Q12007 results this morning and despite posting some strong numbers that were solid gains, they didn't meet analyst consensus estimates for net income, mostly from lower than expected Las Vegas Strip gaming revenues.

Mississippi with Beau Rivage had a strong surge in activity as the property continues to come back from Katrina. Beyond that, Strip REVPAR jumped 9% and EBITDA was up as well.

I like to look at occupancy, ADR and REVPAR more than the revenue figures to get a feel for the real property performance and there was some growth there as well. The blended ADR for the Strip was $169 for the quarter and REVPAR at $162 with occupancy of 96%.

Here's the press release.

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Well, this isn't something I would normally report but it's getting a ton of coverage so here's one for the record...

Steve Friess, of the Strip Podcast and his new blog was the one that broke the story - Harrah's clearly should have embargoed some more bloggers because they just lost control of their story (don't get me started on how these PR departments treat most bloggers - we have more traffic than many of the print magazines covering the industry but often I'm treated like we are of no consequence here - big mistake guys - I can give you a HUGE number of readers a month that all *want* to hear your message and yet I often have a hard time getting phone calls returned. I digress).

Anyway, Bette Midler will replace Celine Dion in 2008 when her Caesars Palace show closes. This will likely be a smashing success - the appetite for Celine was ravenous.

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Las Vegas Sands reported their Q1 2007 results today and while net revenues were up, net income was down due to expenses on upcoming resort properties.

This is getting kinda repetitive - LVS seems to post solid numbers every quarter. They're like Microsoft - making tons of money and totally boring at the same time.

Revenue: $628.2 million
Net Income: $114.60 million
EPS: $0.32

The ADR at the Venetian was up and occupancy was over 98%. Not too shabby.

Macau casino revenue was up. They don't really have any room product to report in Macau yet.

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