MGM Resorts to reopen Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand in Las Vegas - USA TODAY

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MGM Resorts to reopen Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand in Las Vegas - USA TODAYMGM Resorts to reopen Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand in Las Vegas - USA TODAYPlanning a visit to Las Vegas when hotels, casinos reopen June 4? Here are the rules you need to know - USA TODAYMGM Resorts Unveils Reopening Plan for Las Vegas Casinos, Hotels - Hollywood ReporterMGM Resorts to reopen Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand in Las Vegas - USA TODAYPosted: 27 May 2020 01:52 PM PDTCLOSE Yes, dice will roll, cards will be dealt and slot machines will beckon. But poker rooms? Closed. Tourists returning to Las Vegas will see changes since gambling stopped in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. (May 22) AP Entertainment LAS VEGAS – MGM Resorts will reopen four properties on June 4: Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand and The Signature.In the wake of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic shutdown, the long-awaited return of the resorts will come during phase two of Nevada's…

“Playing around: Here's what's new in Las Vegas and at SoCal casinos - The San Diego Union-Tribune” plus 1 more

“Playing around: Here's what's new in Las Vegas and at SoCal casinos - The San Diego Union-Tribune” plus 1 more


Playing around: Here's what's new in Las Vegas and at SoCal casinos - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Posted: 08 Sep 2019 12:00 AM PDT

From a new SoCal casino resort to an ultra-glam VIP way to play and Las Vegas' ever-expanding restaurant scene, there's always something happening in the dynamic casino world. Here's what you need to know beyond San Diego.

Soboba Casino Resort's new 200-room hotel features 1,800 square foot, two-bedroom presidential suites, with a pool table in the living area, off the wet bar.

Soboba Casino Resort's new 200-room hotel features 1,800 square foot, two-bedroom presidential suites, with a pool table in the living area, off the wet bar.

(Courtesy photo)

Soboba Casino Resort debuts

Earlier this year, Soboba transformed from its humble roots as a bingo parlor-turned-tent casino into a full-on luxury resort.

After a two-year development project, Soboba Casino Resort — in San Jacinto, north of Hemet — opened with a six-story, 200-room hotel, a pool with cabanas, a redesigned PGA-rated golf course, new fine dining and casual restaurants, an event center and a gleaming, chandelier-lined 81,747-square-foot casino floor — which is larger than the entire previous facility.

"You'd be hard-pressed to find so many exciting activities in one place," said Jason Cozart, Soboba's assistant general manager.

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Soboba Casino Resort's newly redesigned Soboba Springs golf course is postcard worthy.

Soboba Casino Resort's newly redesigned Soboba Springs golf course is postcard worthy.

(Courtesy photo)

Highlights of the new casino resort include:

  • An elegant, expansive casino floor with 2,000 slot machines and 36 table games.
  • The 200 hotel rooms come in four different configurations — executive, studio, and junior suites, and deluxe king and queen rooms — most with mountain or golf course views. Rooms start at $115 per night. The 1,800-square-foot presidential suites feature marble accents throughout, a living room, wet bar, butler's pantry, dining room, a king bedroom, a separate guest room, a walk-in closet and an oversize bathroom with double vanities, a sunken soaking tub and a walk-in shower.
  • A large pool, adjacent to the golf course's streams and waterfall features, with 10 cabanas and a pool bar.
  • Holes 13 through 16 of the Soboba Springs Gold Course have been fully redesigned; hole 15 is now considered the fourth longest par on the PGA tour, at 641 yards from the Tournament Tees.
  • High-end dining at The Canyons, pan-Asian cuisine at The Noodle Bar, breakfast lunch and dinner fare overlooking the golf course at Fairway Café, a 24-hour cafe and fried chicken, pizza, Mexican and craftbrew and pub food at the Restaurant Row food court.
  • Banquet facilities, a cabaret lounge and a cocktail bar.

23333 Soboba Road, San Jacinto. (866) 476-2622. soboba.com

Soboba's new, expansive pool.

Soboba's new, expansive pool.

(Courtesy photo)

The dramatic entrance to San Manuel Casino's new VIP area called The Vault Gaming & Provisions.

The dramatic entrance to San Manuel Casino's new VIP area called The Vault Gaming & Provisions.

(Courtesy photo)

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San Manuel Casino opens luxury high-limit 'vault'

San Manuel keeps upping the gambling ante. The Highland (San Bernardino) casino is undergoing a $550 million expansion that includes a new hotel and already has the most slot machines in California, with about 4,800. And this summer, it also opened The Vault Gaming & Provisions, a unique high-limit gaming parlor that's part hipster steampunk club, part plush, private casino.

Past the massive, industrial machine-like entryway of the The Vault is an 18,000-square-foot space with 185 high-limit slots, with denominations of up to $500, and eight tables with limits up to $10,000. And within that VIP area is yet an even more exclusive gaming salon that can be sub-divided into two rooms for further privacy; table games there have limits up to $15,000. High rollers are treated to such amenities as private lockers, sumptuous seating areas, a specially created menu and high-end cocktails. Players can also sip on rare and limited production spirits, like the Balvenie 50 Year Old Single Malt Scotch, which can retail around $40,000 a bottle.

777 San Manuel Blvd., Highland. (800) 359-2464. sanmanuel.com

The Hello Kitty Cafe says hello to Las Vegas.

The Hello Kitty Cafe says hello to Las Vegas.

(Courtesy photo)

What's new in Las Vegas

Bachelorette party alert: Groups of up to 11 passengers traveling between McCarran International Airport, The Strip, the Las Vegas Convention Center, downtown and the south Strip can now hail a new, on-demand, rideshare shuttle service called Trip to Strip. Offered by the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, the 24/7 service is available by app (see triptostriplv.com) and offers premium vehicles with WiFi and USB ports. Fares start at $6 depending on the destination and the number in your party, and, unlike other rideshare services, there is no surge pricing. Enter the promo code FIRSTRIDE to get 15 percent off, you guessed it, your first ride.

Sin City icon is back: The SLS Las Vegas will be going through a lot changes in the next few years as part of a $150 million renovation, perhaps none as familiar as a return of its old name — Sahara Las Vegas. The back-in-time rebranding 67 years after the iconic casino resort first opened as the Sahara was announced by owner Alex Meruelo, who bought the property last year.

San Diego's Crack Shack has opened on the Las Vegas Strip, serving its signature fried chicken, biscuits and sandwiches like the Double Clucker.

San Diego's Crack Shack has opened on the Las Vegas Strip, serving its signature fried chicken, biscuits and sandwiches like the Double Clucker.

(Courtesy photo)

Select restaurant openings

The Crack Shack: San Diego's fried chicken haven from chef Richard Blais has opened in front of the Park MGM. We're thinking the lines will only be longer here, but the cheeky, giant rooster should fit right in on The Strip. 3770 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. (702) 820-5991. crackshack.com/location/las-vegas

Trustworthy Brewing Co. & BBQ: A small-batch brewery and barbecue spot at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian sports a chef from Momofuku, Lloyd Bansil. Ribs, brisket, burgers and prime rib all get the smoke or 'cue treatment. Brewery tours are also offered. 3377 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. (702) 607-2337. venetian.com/restaurants/trustworthy-brewing-company.html

The sleek Ambra Italian Kitchen + Bar is now open at the MGM Grand, serving steaks, seafood and pasta. A speakeasy within Ambra is called Privata.

The sleek Ambra Italian Kitchen + Bar is now open at the MGM Grand, serving steaks, seafood and pasta. A speakeasy within Ambra is called Privata.

((Courtesy photo) )

Ambra Italian Kitchen + Bar: Offering accessible, shareable Italian fare and craft cocktails, this eatery at the MGM Grand has a speakeasy named Privata and updated classics like Wagyu meatballs and chocolate cherry flambé, torched tableside. 3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. (702) 891-7600. mgmgrand.mgmresorts.com/en/restaurants/ambra.html

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Among the dishes at Ambra Italian Kitchen + Bar are tomahawk ribeye steak, ravioli with ricotta and fennel pollen, wild Spanish carbineros shrimp served scampi-style and whole, wood-fire grilled branzino.

Among the dishes at Ambra Italian Kitchen + Bar are tomahawk ribeye steak, ravioli with ricotta and fennel pollen, wild Spanish carbineros shrimp served scampi-style and whole, wood-fire grilled branzino.

(Anthony Mair photo)

Hello Kitty Cafe: This super cute former pop-up is now semi-permanent at The Park adjacent to the T-Mobile Arena, between the Park MGM and New York-New York. Hello Kitty merch rules here, but the multi-colored sweets (macarons, tarts, cookies, cakes, doughnuts and more) are also a treat. 3782 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. sanrio.com/pages/hellokittycafe-locations

The Hello Kitty Cafe, which started as a pop-up in Las Vegas, now has a semi-permanent home in The Park, by T-Mobile Arena.

The Hello Kitty Cafe, which started as a pop-up in Las Vegas, now has a semi-permanent home in The Park, by T-Mobile Arena.

(Courtesy photo)

Frites Las Vegas: This new french fry food truck in Vegas prompts the question: When is one opening in San Diego? Original and truffle frites can be topped with everything from bacon, cheddar and sour cream to nacho fixings. For dessert, crinkle-cut sweet potato fries are served with a — what? — whipped malted Nutella cream. At the Excalibur food court. 3850 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. (702) 795-4112. friteslasvegas.com

The Frites Las Vegas truck at the Excalibur has a sign that says it all: Revere the Fry

The Frites Las Vegas truck at the Excalibur has a sign that says it all: Revere the Fry

(Courtesy photo)

A Buyer's Market On The Las Vegas Strip - KNPR

Posted: 23 Sep 2019 12:00 AM PDT

If there's one thing you can say about the tourism sector of Las Vegas, it's clearly in a state of transition.

On Tuesday, Caesars Entertainment announced it had reached an agreement to sell its off-Strip property, the Rio, to a New York real estate company. This is happening as Reno-based El Dorado Resorts is in the middle of acquiring Caesars. 

Howard Stutz, the executive director of CDC Gaming Reports, said under the agreement Imperial Companies will buy the property but lease it back to Caesars Entertainment to operate it.

Stutz explained why the deal was worked out that way:

"It benefits Caesars in the sense they get the $516 million from the sale. They're going to put that to whatever use they're going to. Now, they'll lease it for $45 million a year. They'll pay that out of cash flow ... and for Imperial, it gives them a couple of years to figure out exactly what they want to do. If they want to bring another company in to manage it as a casino. If they want to reimage it as a non-gaming hotel. It's a big piece of land so it gives them a lot of time to do something with it," 

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What that something is, Stutz is not sure, but he brushed off the idea that it will be torn down to become a baseball stadium or become the hub for a proposed high-speed train to Southern California.

Stutz said Caesars Entertainment has invested in and upgraded its other properties along the Strip, but the Rio really hasn't been renovated much. That being said, the World Series of Poker will be staying at the property for another year.

Stutz also said that this buyout is the latest in a string of smaller gaming conglomerates cropping up and getting involved in Las Vegas -- and that it's good to have more competition.

"It's kind of nice to see a company like Imperial come in and take the Rio because now you're going to get fresh eyes on it," he said, "You're going to get fresh eyes on all these properties." New companies, he added, will be valuable for Las Vegas and valuable for the gaming market.

MGM Resorts International, still in the middle of its headline-making cost-saving campaign, is reportedly looking to sell three of its most iconic properties: The Bellagio, MGM Grand and Circus-Circus.

There is speculation that investment company Blackstone could buy the first two resorts, and then lease them back to MGM. And then there's the association to a non-MGM property. 

"What is interesting about Blackstone is they bought the Cosmopolitan, finished it off. They bought it for $1.4 billion and spent about another $500 million to finish it, but in April, they announced the Cosmopolitan was up for sale," Stutz said, "So, now they're talking with MGM about Bellagio and the MGM Grand. I'm still trying to figure out where the Cosmopolitan fits into all this."

Stutz said the advantage for MGM Resorts -- and the hope for a lot of analysts and investors -- would be its reduced dependency on MGM Growth Partners, the company's real estate investment trust. 

The sale could also help MGM Resorts with the monumental price tag for a resort in Japan if they're granted a license.

Also this week, Bloomberg reported that Phil Ruffin, the owner of the TI, was in talks with MGM Resorts to by Circus Circus. When Ruffin bought the TI, he famously took out the iconic pirate ship battle that took place nightly on the Strip.

Stutz is not sure if he would do the same thing to the circus shows and midway that have been part of the property for a long time. But he did point out that with Circus Circus, the attached RV park and the nearby festival grounds that would be included in the deal, Ruffin stands to gain nearly 100 acres of prime Strip land.

"I'm curious what his endgame is with this," he said. "Circus Circus is going to see better days now because of the Resorts World project. The SLS is going to become the Sahara. The convention center is going to open in 2021 across the street. There is a lot of interest in that north end, but you have re-imagine what you're going to do with Circus Circus and move forward with it."

Stutz said despite Circus Circus' reputation for being worn out and tired, the family-oriented property makes money for MGM. 

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