When you drive the Strip, stroll its sidewalks, or browse its casinos, there’s no mistaking it: America’s rowdy gambling mecca is teeming with tourists again.
And while visitor volumes remain below pre-pandemic levels and the coronavirus outbreak has by no means been eradicated, casino investors are betting big that Las Vegas is back on track.
Of course, there are still a lot of unknowns, especially when Las Vegas’ normally lucrative convention industry returns to full force and when the pandemic finally comes to an end.
But Las Vegas has seen an explosion in multi-billion dollar resort sales this year, and developers have pushed plans for new hotels on and off the Strip.
More recently, on the construction side, Florida developer Jeffrey Soffer on November 9 announced plans to open the 67-story Fontainebleau Las Vegas in the fourth quarter of 2023.
He started the North Strip project in the mid-2000s, but the Fontainebleau went bankrupt after the economy crashed and changed hands several times before Soffer bought the still-unfinished skyscraper in February.
Station Casinos aims to inaugurate a $ 750 million resort in the Southwest Valley early next year, and developer Lorenzo Doumani has said he plans to start construction of a non-gaming hotel in 720 rooms near the North Strip in the first quarter of 2022.
Additionally, the developers at Dream Las Vegas have said they hope to lead the way next year at their 20-story casino hotel near the south edge of the Strip.
On the buyout side, Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced in March that it was selling The Venetian, Palazzo and the former Sands Expo and Convention Center for $ 6.25 billion, and MGM Resorts International said in July that it was selling the Aria and Vdara for nearly $ 3.9. billion and would rent them.
In August, Caesars Entertainment spin-off Vici Properties unveiled a more than $ 17 billion acquisition from another casino owner, MGM Resorts spin-off MGM Growth Properties, giving Vici ownership. properties of many of the Strip’s largest casino hotels.
On top of all this, New York-based financial conglomerate Blackstone announced in September that it was selling The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for $ 5.65 billion, nearly $ 4 billion more than its 2014 purchase price.
As part of the sale, MGM Resorts acquires the operating portion of Cosmo for more than $ 1.6 billion.
Other agreements could be in progress. MGM chief Bill Hornbuckle recently said the company was in the “early stages” of selling The Mirage business, and Caesars Entertainment boss Tom Reeg said the company was considering selling the one of his properties on the Strip.
Of course, all of this movement and dealings in no way guarantee that the Las Vegas tourism industry will soon fully recover from the severe economic fallout from the pandemic or never face any problems down the road.
Yet the economy is in much better shape now than it was in the frightening and chaotic spring of 2020, when Nevada casinos were state-blocked and Las Vegas’ unemployment rate exceeded 30. %.
Around this time, I took a bike ride – an extra leisurely ride, with little traffic – up and down Las Vegas Boulevard and looked closely at the resort’s boarded up entrances, quiet sidewalks, and sidewalks. closed retail buildings. .
It was a once unthinkable landscape – and at the time, if anyone had said that companies would soon be spending a fortune to buy and build casinos in Las Vegas, that too would have been pretty unthinkable.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp.