Most visitors on the Las Vegas Strip know there are dozens of hotels and casinos, each with its own theme or individual aesthetic.
But behind the scenes, many of the highest-profile properties are owned by two companies: MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. And in the past few months, the two companies have been wheeling and dealing with their billion-dollar assets.
On Wednesday, MGM announced it is looking for a buyer for the Mirage, a staple of the Strip since its opening in 1989. That comes 1 day after Caesars announced it was looking to unload one of its own unnamed major resorts.
The Mirage is located in the middle of the Strip, positioned between Treasure Island and Caesars Palace. It was one of the first hotels during the transformation of Las Vegas from old-style hotels to the themed, mega-resorts now synonymous with the Strip.
MGM acquired the Mirage in 2000 for $4.4 billion.
“We are happy with the amount of exposure we currently have in Las Vegas,” MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle said during an earnings call. “As such, we’re currently in the early stages of a process to sell the operations of the Mirage. Doing so will allow us to maintain our existing Las Vegas exposure while focusing on the complementary diverse nature of our offerings in our hometown.”
Hornbuckle did not mention a timeline or asking price for the property, but he expects it will continue to do well now and for a new owner.
“It’s a historic property with great brand recognition and a strong customer and loyal following,” he said.
MGM Resorts decided unloading the Mirage was necessary after a series of other moves over the past few months, including the purchase of The Cosmopolitan for $5.65 billion.
MGM also operates the MGM Grand, Bellagio, Park MGM, New York-New York, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, Vdara, Aria, and Luxor.
“We have enough of Vegas,” Hornbuckle said.
In addition to a little more than 3,000 rooms, the Mirage includes 77 acres of land. The former home to the hugely popular Siegfried and Roy show, the property still includes a secret garden and dolphin habitat on site.
Since 2006, the Mirage has been the home of the Cirque du Soleil show Love, based on the music of The Beatles.
“[It] provides attractive development opportunities to capture large amounts of foot traffic,” Hornbuckle said. “We’re certain it will remain a success with a new operator in the future.”
MGM’s chief competitor on the Strip, Caesars Entertainment, has been on a roller-coaster over the past several years. It emerged from bankruptcy protection late last decade, then sold to Eldorado Resorts in 2019. Now it’s looking to reduce its inventory in Las Vegas.
In addition to its signature hotel, Caesars owns or operates the Flamingo, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Planet Hollywood, Paris Las Vegas, the Cromwell, the Linq, and the Rio — which is located just off the Strip.
The company announced in August that it was looking to sell one of those properties. This week, CEO Tom Reeg moved up that timeline.
“We also think this is an opportune time to execute on our strategy of a Strip asset sale,” Reeg said on an earnings call. “So you should expect us to put that into motion in the early part of ‘22.”
Reeg doesn’t expect a lack of interest in whatever property they choose to unload.
“We should encounter pretty robust demand for a center-Strip asset that frankly may be one of the last to trade for quite some time,” Reeg said.