Any way you cut it, a billion bucks is a hefty price for a Vegas icon. Hard Rock International acquired the Mirage for a cash sale of $1.08 billion and now the Florida-based gaming company has a footprint on the Las Vegas Strip. The Mirage was the first of the new mega resorts that popped up in Las Vegas at the end of the 20th Century when Steve Wynn was determined to build a gambling oasis in the desert.
The Mirage first opened in 1989 as a Polynesian-themed adult fantasy world. It became a hotspot for sportsbetting and poker. The biggest games on the Strip were played at the Mirage in the 1990s. The Mirage was even namechecked in Rounders as the place to be for aspiring poker pros who wanted to play nosebleed stakes with the best of the best. The Mirage was also the focal point for entertainment with a new theater built to house and showcase Siegfried & Roy and their white tigers.
In the early 1990s, the Mirage race and sportsbook were considered state of the art. I know as a Vegas neophyte in the early 90s, checking out the Mirage sportsbook for the first time provided a glimpse into the future with a massive wall of TV screens and odds for every sport. In my 20s, the Mirage had become my favorite casino in Las Vegas before other mega resorts were built by Wynn like the Bellagio and Wynn.
Steve Wynn sold the Mirage to MGM in 2000, so he could focus on building a new resort with his own name across the street.
As per terms of the deal, Hard Rock will lease the Mirage name for three years. At some point, they will tear down the iconic volcano and construct a guitar-shaped tower like you might've seen at their property in Hollywood, Florida at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. The SHR in Florida loves poker and frequently runs various series throughout the year, so there's hopes that poker will return to that spot. The Mirage shuttered their poker room last year, which was a shame because of its rich history.
The old Hard Rock Casino, located on Tropicana off the Strip behind the MGM, is now owned by Virgin Hotels and will be rebranded as Virgin Casino.
MGM owns all the property on one side of the Strip from the Bellagio all the way to Mandalay Bay. That also includes Bellagio, The Cosmo, Aria, Park MGM, New York New York, Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay. Oh and don't forget the anchor resort of MGM across the street. MGM also owns 42.5% of T-Mobile Arena, which is the home to the Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team.
MGM wants to focus on their clustered properties and Bet MGM in the virtual space. But word on the street is that they're also eying a new casino property south of Mandalay Bay near the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. One insider suggested it would become the new-version of the Mirage or Mirage 2.0. That new property could also include a larger convention space. MGM's current casinos have smaller convention space that cannot compete with the Sands Expo, Las Vegas Convention Center, or even the new space by Caesars which is supposed to house the WSOP next summer.