The Biggest Casino Rumors & News Shaking Up Las Vegas This May

Posted By Marc Meltzer on May 11, 2021 - Last Updated on May 13, 2021

The Las Vegas comeback is real and it’s been creeping upwards all year. During recent earnings calls, casino operators on and off the Vegas Strip were pointing to higher occupancy every month this year. Consider the news impressive as the increased visitor numbers were already climbing even before capacity increasing inside casinos, restaurants and bars. It appears a trip to Las Vegas is definitely on everyone’s summer vacation checklist.

Enjoy the sales and complimentary rooms while they’re available. Once Las Vegas returns to visitation rates from 2019, prices will increase. Some companies expect to see rates spike later this year. Others are looking at next year, especially around the time of when Las Vegas hosts the 2022 NFL Draft.

Wynn/Encore, Cosmopolitan and Stratosphere are the first three casinos that can allow 100% capacity on the gaming floor in Las Vegas. All Caesars, MGM Resorts, Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos properties were also allowed 100% capacity shortly thereafter. This is due to the fact that 80% of their respective employees are vaccinated for COVID-19.

While the return of Las Vegas is great, it’s going to be a bumpy ride for a little while. The ramp-up of visitors is happening at such a rapid pace that businesses can’t hire employees fast enough. Even as capacity is greater, there are lines for most restaurants at some point during the day. Popular bars are also busy.

Rideshares are limited as many drivers stopped last year and haven’t returned in full force. As of a couple of weeks ago, only 50% of rideshare requests were being fulfilled. There’s also a shortage of rental cars as more people are flying in than at any time in the past year. Pre-booked car services can be a bit expensive but that’s one way to beat the traffic at McCarron Airport.

Be patient and prepared and good things will come. The Great Vegas Comeback (™) is causing a flurry of business that includes everything from a slew of entertainment announcements to big business deals and plans for new casinos.

Shows, residencies and clubs are rockin’

In recent years, residency shows have become the pinnacle of Las Vegas entertainment. While there are plenty of great and popular residencies, stage shows helped put Las Vegas on the entertainment map.

Cirque Du Soliel produces some of the most popular stage shows in Las Vegas. “Mystère” will return to its stage at Treasure Island on June 28. “O” will hit the stage at Bellagio a few days later on July 1. Blue Man Group will join Carrot Top and Fantasy at Luxor in June.

Many residencies announced last year have been pushed back to this year and next. Some performers are skipping the line and adding shows this year. Usher added shows to his Caesars Palace residency for August. Shows begin in July but there were none on the schedule until later this year and next.

Similarly, Bruno Mars announced his return to Park MGM this July. Tickets for all six shows sold out in minutes. MGM Resorts kept some to sell special weekend packages with hotel rooms and more.

Additionally, this month the government allowed nightclubs and strip clubs to open once again. Las Vegas is returning to the 24-hour entertainment destination so many love. Insomniac Events also just announced Deadmau5 will perform on May 21 at Downtown Events Center.

There’s more to come from the next new casino to open on the Vegas Strip.

Resorts World announces opening date and teases A-list residencies

Resorts World Las Vegas announced it will be opening on June 24.

The new hotel-casino has been dropping lots of details about what visitors will find when it opens. Entertainment will be a huge attraction to Resorts World given its Theater by AEG. Dates haven’t been announced for artist residencies but there will be plenty at after it opens. Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Tiësto and Zedd are all featured in its “Stay Fabulous” campaign.

The DJ residencies, Tiësto and Zedd, have been confirmed by Resorts World Las Vegas. The theater residencies with the other artist have not been officially announced yet.

Resorts World announced a partnership with cryptocurrency exchange and custodian Gemini. The goal is for the property to be the most crypto-friendly casino on the Vegas strip. Expect cryptocurrency to be used in the non-gaming parts of Resorts World when this first launches.

Las Vegas casinos changing hands

New casinos are opening soon and in the future. Red Rock Resorts (AKA Station Casinos) sold Palms Casino Resort to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The property has been closed for more than a year. This deal is expected to close before the end of the year. Rumor has it that there could be a New Year’s Eve grand reopening party at Palms.

Tropicana Las Vegas was sold to Bally’s Corp. This company is not affiliated with Caesars and its Bally’s Las Vegas casino. The property should remain under current ownership for the rest of the year. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2022.

There are still rumors that Bally’s Las Vegas (the Caesars casino) could be rebranded, sold, and/or both. Caesars CEO, Tom Reeg, says the company doesn’t plan on selling a property this year. He didn’t mention anything about the possible rebrand.

Live poker is back in Las Vegas this summer

The World Series Of Poker (WSOP) is tentatively scheduled to return to Rio All-Suite Casino from Sept. 30 – Nov. 23. This was leaving a hole in the live poker summer schedule, but have no fear, Wynn Las Vegas is here.

The Wynn Signature Series will take place from April 26 – May 9. The Signature Series features 11 events with guaranteed prize pools totaling more than $1 million.

The Wynn Millions tournament will take place from June 25 – July 2. The $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold ‘Em event will have a guaranteed prize pool of $10 million.

While this isn’t the WSOP, it’s the return of big live poker events. This is also the only casino poker room in Las Vegas without plexiglass as of the writing of this article. The casino was able to remove the barriers when it was allowed to increase capacity because of the number of employees vaccinated.

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Is Durango Station coming soon?

During its first-quarter earnings call, Red Rock Resorts dropped a hint of what the company is planning after Palms is sold. The company has empty plots of land all around Las Vegas. A plot of land off the Vegas Strip on Durango Drive appears to be a standout location.

The company has talked about building a casino on this land for years. During the call, representatives discussed that they’re currently developing a plan to finally build Durango Station.

Details on the off-strip casino are sparse but Frank Fertitta shared some insight.

“We’re going to put the dollars into the place where we make money. It’s going to be a focus on slot machines and table games, our primary business. We’ll have several restaurant options. We will not have a buffet.”

Red Rock Resorts will have more information about the plans for Durango Station during its next earnings call. Construction should begin sometime in 2022.

Photo by John Locher / Associated Press
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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