Dr. Deathwatch Returns : Nick's Picks 2007

Las Vegas Casino Death Watch's Nick Christenson Gives His Annual Post Mortem for the Las Vegas Casino Industry

Posted by Chuckmonster

VT: The Excalibur has quietly undergone a bit of an image makeover. Their new branding, logo, entertainment and presentation are skewing slightly towards the 'adult' market. What does MGMMIRAGE have up their sleeves?

NC: Quietly, I'm guessing the plan is to have it limp along as best possible until they can get around to replacing it with something that makes a little more money per acre. The problem is, they've at least got City Center to deal with first, and that's going to take a lot of attention and create a lot of debt load before it starts generating cash flow. So we'll see small changes to the Ex for a while. When they stop making these changes, that's probably a pretty good indicator that the place's time is finally up.

VT: After a protracted bidding war, middle tier casino operator Columbia-Sussex bought the Tropicana Vegas (and Atlantic City) for about $3 billion dollars. They've announced a redevelopment plan that will bring a slew of new towers, convention space and other buildings while keeping the two hotel towers currently there. What the hell are these guys thinking?

NC: I've got absolutely no idea. They way overbid for the place and then announce they're going to continue to appeal to the mid-market crowd, which means the low end of the market, in actuality. Without some big money making plans how can they hope to recoup their investment? Moreover, according to their plans they're going to go from where they are now to over 9000 rooms, about 1000 condos, a new 85000 square foot casino, a 650000 square foot convention center, and almost 275000 square feet of retail space as a series of rolling upgrades? If they can pull it off, I'll be impressed, that's for sure.

VT: We're at the Las Vegas Casino Deathwatch Sports book and YOU are the odds maker. Give us the line and your comments on these redevelopment projects that were floated this year.

First up... New Frontier becomes Montreaux:

NC: Hahahaha. That's a good one. Oh, you're serious? 1 in 100.
We're not letting the public lay the odds on this one.

VT: Fontainebleau breaks ground:

NC: A possibility, although they've been quiet. I put it at 2 in 5.

VT: Maxim Hotel opens:

NC: This is the Maxim (magazine) hotel, not classically renaming the Westin Casuarina, right? Well, in the initial announcement they expected groundbreaking in late 2007, so an "opening" seems unlikely. This one seems less plausible to me, and any schedule slip puts them into 2008, so I'd put a groundbreaking this year at 1 in 7.

VT: The super tall tower thingy at Wet N Wild gets built:

NC: Sounds like the FAA already put the kibosh on this one. If you're talking about groundbreaking again, I'd say about 1 in 100 of development starting according to previously published plans.

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