MGM Resorts announced that it is selling one of the original mega-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip to the company owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida for just shy of $1.1 billion.
According to a report from USA Today, the Las Vegas-based gaming giant announced that it is selling the Mirage to Hard Rock International for $1.08 billion. Once the transaction is approved by regulators, which is expected to be in the second half of 2022, the property will be renamed Hard Rock Las Vegas.
“As part of the team the opened The Mirage in 1989, I know firsthand how special it is, and what a great opportunity it presents to the Hard Rock team,” said MGM Resorts CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle in a press release. “I want to thank all of our Mirage employees who have consistently delivered world-class gaming and entertainment experiences to our guests for more than three decades.”
Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen said Monday that the company will keep the 3,500 employees of the Mirage and will enter into a long-term lease agreement with VICI Properties, which owns the underlying real estate of the Mirage.
Allen’s company also announced that it plans on building a guitar-shaped tower on the Las Vegas Strip. Based on the renderings released, it will look nearly identical to the one the company built at its flagship South Florida property in Hollywood in 2019 and will be constructed where the Mirage’s iconic volcano currently sits.
While it is the first Seminole-owned property in Las Vegas, it’s the second time there is a Hard Rock-branded hotel casino in Sin City. There was a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino just off the Las Vegas Strip, but it was sold to billionaire Richard Branson in 2018. It closed for renovations and reopened as Virgin Hotel Las Vegas in March 2021.
The casino portion of Virgin is operated by Mohegan Gaming, which marked the first time a tribal entity operated a casino in Las Vegas. When the Seminoles open Hard Rock Las Vegas, they will become the second.
With the sale of the Mirage, MGM has essentially consolidated its Las Vegas properties to the south end of the Strip. Last September, the company bought the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas from Blackstone for $1.625 billion. After that purchase, MGM owned every casino on the west side of Las Vegas Boulevard south of Caesars Palace, as well as MGM Grand on the east side of the street.
MGM acquired the Mirage in 2000 when the company bought Mirage Resorts from Steve Wynn for $6.4 billion, including $2 billion in assumed debt. MGM then changed its name to MGM Mirage until 2010 when it became MGM Resorts International.
The Mirage originally opened in 1989 after Wynn built it for $620 million, which was the most expensive casino resort in Las Vegas at the time it was built. It was the first time in 15 years that a company broke ground on a new casino in the city.
Throughout the 1990s, the Mirage poker room was where the biggest games were spread and was home to many legends of the game. It was made even more famous thanks to the famous scene in Rounders when Matt Damon’s character goes broke and says the line “I want him to think I’m pondering a call, but all I’m really thinking about is Vegas and the f***ing Mirage.”
As other casinos opened newer poker rooms up and down the Strip, Mirage’s poker room downsized. The Mirage was one of the last MGM-owned casinos to reopen from the COVID-induced shutdown of March 2020, but the poker room never reopened and was replaced with slot machines.