Hotels sans casinos

The Wall Street Journal reports that the gambling operator MGM Mirage is contemplating entering the luxury hotel business with “nary a slot machine in sight” in the hotels. Ironically headlined “MGM Mirage Gamble: Luxury Hotels Sans Casinos”, the report notes that it is likely to be a joint-venture with “the Mubadala Development Co., an Abu Dhabi entity owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates”. The venture will likely result in MGM Mirage managing new luxury hotels built in Abu Dhabi, Las Vegas and the United Kingdom. While Mubadala group will do the development, MGM Mirage could use names from its current inventory as well as newer names such as “Vdara- and Harmon-branded hotels being built as part of the company’s $7 billion Project CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip”.

As the report notes, MGM will be entering a field that has attracted a lot of entrants lately not the least of whom is the redoubtable Barry Sternlicht with his Crillon brand. MGM does already operate the luxury Mandalay Bay and the Bellagio but, as anyone who has stayed there will know, the atmosphere is pervaded by the distinctive sounds and flavors of a casino. And for those who go to Vegas for business unconnected to the ubiquitous gaming business, it can be quite a challenge if not outright hindrance. It would be nice if MGM or any luxury operator opened a “sans casino” project in Las Vegas as well.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.