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Las Vegas Casino News — Economy Spurs Sales, Changes

Friday, January 9th, 2009

All day today, I have been thinking about a quote from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  That’s how I feel about all the news flying out of Las Vegas lately.  I guess I just needed a little time to absorb it all, cut the wheat from the chaff, and then make a few observations in a post.

Here’s a run-down on the current highlights (and lowlights) of life in Las Vegas for some of the major casino industry players:

From MGM Mirage:  “CityCenter Holdings, LLC, a joint venture between MGM MIRAGE (NYSE: MGM) and Infinity World Development Corp, today announced certain scope changes related to The Harmon Hotel & Spa which include postponing the opening of the hotel to late 2010 and cancelling The Harmon residential condominium component.”  The press release cited “contractor construction errors” as partially to blame for the reconfiguring of the project.  All other components of CityCenter remain on schedule for a December 2009 grand opening.

Speaking of CityCenter, it began taking applications Monday to fill the approximately 12,000 jobs available at the new property.  Myriad positions from food and beverage service to hotel and casino operations, retail help and more will need to be staffed before the December grand opening.  Check the CityCenterCareers website for more information.

In mid-December, while we were all busy buying gifts at the local mall (or maybe Walmart this year,) Phil Ruffin, former owner of the New Frontier, was busy getting his own bargain – Treasure Island from owner MGM Mirage for a reported $775 million.  Ruffin, a Wichita, Kansas businessman, sold the New Frontier in May 2007 for more than $1.24 billion. That casino was closed shortly thereafter and demolished in November 2007.  The deal on TI is expected to go through in early-summer.

Are there more property sales ahead for MGM Mirage?  The answer “possibly” is leaning more and more toward “probably.”  See what you think after reading  this article at Bloomberg.com based on an interview with new MGM Mirage CEO James Murren.  The reporter says that Mr. Murren “plans to “dramatically” reduce debt and will consider further casino sales as he overhauls the company’s balance sheet.”

One question we can easily answer is “Will there be more massive changes in Las Vegas this year?”  And that answer is a resounding “most definitely.”

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