Clients never felt a thing. There was no thunderclap or roiling
of the earth but when the Nevada Gaming Control Board
rubber-stamped the $7.9 billion buyout of Mandalay Resort Group by
MGM Mirage in February, there was a real, if invisible, shift in
the landscape of the Las Vegas Strip.
The deal created, for the moment, the world's largest casino
company with 11 Strip resorts and 75,000 employees. The title
wasn’t held long when Harrah's Entertainment Inc. acquired Caesars
Entertainment Inc. in a $9.4 billion deal. The Harrah’s merger may
be bigger, but it doesn’t have the same impact on Las Vegas. The
MGM Mirage/Mandalay Bay merger puts 36,500 hotel rooms and 40
percent of all slot machines on the Strip under one owner.
Back in 2000, MGM Corp., led by billionaire developer Kirk
Kirkorian, bought Mirage Corp. from Steve Wynn and company. The new
MGM Mirage company owned 12 properties outright and a significant
stake in two others including one in the United Kingdom.
The latest transaction resulted in a company that rules 28
So what does all this mean to consumers and the travel agents
who serve those consumers? Either a lot or not much, depending on
“It’s definitely going to impact my business,” said Leo
Falkensammer, vice president and CFO of Prestige Travel in Las
Vegas. His company books about a million room nights a year in Las
Vegas. “Whatever happens at the MGM, they are going to effect those
same rules at Mandalay Bay.”
He said he doesn’t think that impact will necessarily be
negative. He has always had good relationships with MGM Mirage. He
thinks the mergers will be positive for consumers.
With the merger of Boyd Gaming Corp., owner of the Stardust and
several downtown and off-Strip properties, and Coast Casinos Inc.,
which owns the Barbary Coast on the Strip and three off-Strip
properties, there will now be three large companies “beating up on
each other” and the competition will remain stiff, Falkensammer
Company insiders say there is little danger that the
near-monopoly will result in a cookie-cutter look on the Strip.
“MGM Mirage as a corporation has always relied on their
properties to maintain their individual identities and I think you
can expect to see that practice maintained with respect to the
newly acquired properties,” said MGM Mirage director of public
affairs, Gordon Absher, who until recently held a similar title at
He said agents and clients should not worry that putting a lot
of hotel rooms into a few hands will have an impact on pricing.
“Occupancy is always a top concern,” he said. “Different
properties are going to maintain their identities and with that
their general price levels. We are in the business of selling hotel
rooms and we are going to do everything we can to maintain our
Absher said it is likely we will see the company investing more
money in renovation and expansion of the former Mandalay Bay Corp.
“As part of the transition and as the members of MGM Mirage
become more familiar with the new properties, I think you can look
for the company to fall into the practice of reinvesting in
existing properties,” he said.
He cited recent renovations at the Bellagio and the MGM Grand as
examples of the company’s policy of keeping the properties up to
date. A new tower opened at the Bellagio in December and all
existing rooms were remodeled to bring the entire inventory up to
the same standards as the new rooms, Absher said.
The MGM Grand recently remodeled the public areas at the Las
Vegas Strip entrance to the hotel, adding restaurants, lounges and
remodeling the race and sports book. The “Emerald Tower” that
predates the MGM Grand as part of the old Marina hotel once stood
in its place, has been completely revamped and is now known as the
“MGM Mirage has a tradition of not being afraid to spend money
on their existing properties. I think you will see that continue at
the new properties,” Absher said.
He also said there will be no name change for the merged
companies as there was when MGM took over Mirage Corp. The company
name will remain MGM Mirage but the stock symbol has changed.
“When Sony bought out MGM they gave up the MGM stock ticker
designation. We used to be MGG. Now we are MGM,” he said.
MGM Mirage Las Vegas Strip properties:
MGM Grand Las Vegas
New York New York
Former Mandalay Resort Group properties:
Rail Road Pass Boulder City, Nev.
Silver Legacy Reno, Nev.
Colorado Bell Laughlin, Nev.
Edgewater Laughlin, Nev.
Gold Strike Jean, Nev.
Nevada Landing Jean, Nev.
Buffalo Bills Primm, Nev.
Primm Valley Primm, Nev.
Whiskey Petes Primm, Nev.
Circus Circus Reno
Beau Rivage Biloxi, Miss.
Borgata Atlantic City, N.J.
Gold Strike Tunica, Miss.
Grand Victoria Elgin, Ill.
MGM Grand Detroit