The Caesars-Eldorado Merger Represents Changes For Casinos, Vegas

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It’s finally final–Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment announced their merger today. The company will be called Caesars and together they will have about 60 casinos in 14 states.

This is a landmark deal by both national and Las Vegas standards. Together, they will dominate the US casino scene in size and scale.

It’s just another example of how the casino industry is constantly evolving, especially in Las Vegas.

Sometimes there are simple differences at a Las Vegas casino-resort like a new bar, restaurants or an attraction. Other times, everything about the casino is entirely different.

A casino could change ownership, but that isn’t always noticeable from the outside. Not only are there physical changes in some casinos, but there can be an entirely new aura when walking into an old favorite.

This is happening right now in and will continue over the next few years. Let’s break down the Caesars-Eldorado news and go over all the major Las Vegas casino changes in the last few years.

Caesars-Eldorado created the world’s biggest casino company

Eldorado Resorts purchased Caesars Entertainment and will merge both company’s assets together to become the biggest gaming company in the world. Including Caesars Entertainment’s debt, the cash and stock deal is worth $17.3 billion, with 51% of the company going to Eldorado shareholders, and 49% to Caesars shareholders.

Billionaire Carl Icahn joined the Caesars board a few months and wasted no time pushing for a sale. When the deal is approved, the name of the company will be Caesars but it will be made up of the casinos from both companies.

Much to the joy of Eldorado’s player’s club members, there will be even more properties to gamble at, including access to casinos in Las Vegas for the first time. Caesars Rewards, the largest casino loyalty club in the US, will be implemented in all Eldorado Resorts properties.

The merger of these large casino operators will result in some consolidation. Properties may be sold in markets where both Eldorado and Caesars operate casinos. On a call discussing this deal, Eldorado CEO Tim Reeg said they will sell at least one Caesars property on the Vegas Strip. He didn’t even mention keeping Rio, which has reportedly been on and off the market for five years.

The deal still has to be approved by the Federal Trade Commission. Expect more changes over the next year.

Corporate consolidation

Let’s look back before looking forward. Change is nothing new to Las Vegas. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, corporate consolidation was the name of the game.

Caesars Entertainment spun off from Hilton to become Park Place Entertainment. The smaller company was purchased by Harrah’s Entertainment to make a massive casino corporation. In 2003, the name was changed to the current Caesars Entertainment.

In 2000, MGM Grand purchased Mirage Resorts. The combined casino corporation became MGM Mirage. The new company changed its name to MGM Resorts International in 2010. The company currently owns 10 casino-resorts on the Vegas Strip.

The thing about Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International is they have had monopoly-like qualities. They are the giants with the impressive portfolios, the million dollar marketing campaigns, the splashy A-list music residences, the truly prime resort locations on the Strip.

Together, have been operating more than half of the casinos on the Vegas Strip for almost two decades. When Caesars was looking to sell, it’s no wonder Eldorado was salivating over the thought of snapping up these prime casinos.

Needless to say, the Las Vegas that visitors know from 10 years ago is in the middle of a major transformation. New owners, rebranded casinos and new construction will continually create a unique casino experience for guests today and tomorrow.

New blood coming to Las Vegas

The Eldorado-Caesars Entertainment deal is one example of fresh blood on and around the Vegas Strip in the next few years. We know Eldorado will sell off at least one of Caesars’ nine Vegas casino-resorts (Rio and/or Planet Hollywood have been rumored) to pay down the massive debt they’d acquire with the company.

The Cosmopolitan is an independently owned and operated casino-resort that is currently being shopped to sell.

The current owners have made a slew of changes to the property since purchasing the Cosmopolitan in 2014. A new owner won’t have to change much physically at the Cosmopolitan, but there could be small tweaks to the experience.

Just off the Vegas Strip, the Hard Rock will become Virgin Hotels Las Vegas next year. Sir Richard Branson, the owner of the Virgin Group, is somewhat famous for shaking things up.

The rapidly expanding hotel company currently offers free Wi-Fi, doesn’t charge resort or cancellation fees, has nightly happy hour for guests and offers simple late checkout.

Las Vegas hotel companies today are all about adding on fees for anything possible. The potential of a new hotelier offering all-inclusive rates could change how other hotels operate in Las Vegas.

Reimagining Las Vegas casinos

Some existing casinos are getting a fresh new look.

Shortly after The Park opened in between New York-New York and Monte Carlo, MGM Resorts International announced that the Monte Carlo would become Park MGM. The renovation of the entire property took nearly two years and $550 million. The whole area has a new look and feel.

Red Rock Resorts, aka Station Casinos, just renovated Palace Station and the Palms. The renovations for the latter cost nearly $700 million. Palms was purchased for $300 million in 2016. Altogether, Red Rock Resorts will have spent more than $1 billion, creating a brand-new experience at the Palms.

SLS Las Vegas was sold in 2017 and is wrapping up a $100 million property-wide transformation. With a new casino floor, bars, restaurants and attitude, there’s an entirely new feel to the casino and hotel. And the name of the casino might change later this year.

There are two names rumored for the re-imagined property. SLS could switch back to the original name Sahara or a similar named Grand Sahara.

Casino construction continues

There was a construction boom on Vegas Strip in the early 2000s. A couple of those stalled casino projects on the north end of the Vegas Strip could finally open in the next few years.

Construction continues on Resorts World Las Vegas across the street from Wynn Las Vegas. The land has been a construction site since 2007 when Boyd Gaming started building Echelon. The property is now owned by Genting Group who broke ground on Resorts World Las Vegas in 2015.

Plans for the casino continue to evolve, and the current schedule says it should be open by the end of 2020. This casino will be the first in Las Vegas for Genting Group.

The partially finished Fontainebleau is now called Drew Las Vegas. The property is currently being redesigned and is scheduled to open in 2022.

The current owner, the Witkoff Group, is a real estate developer so expect to see other companies operating different parts of the integrated resort when it finally opens.

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The future of Las Vegas

Las Vegas is constantly changing.

It’s different today than it was a few years ago. Sin City continues to change and will be very different in the next few years. Things are never dull in Vegas.

New and reinvented casinos, along with new owners and partnerships, will always guarantee a new Las Vegas experience.

Marc Meltzer

About

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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