There is no doubt that the post-pandemic period of the Las Vegas Strip will be an era of sweeping change.
Allegiant Stadium, Resorts World and the Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall expansion have all arrived during COVID and are starting to have a major impact on the Strip and the city. Fontainebleau and MSG Sphere are set to open in 2023, adding more hotel rooms, casino spaces and entertainment experiences to the tourist corridor.
Other new operators will continue to join in the fun, including the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians gaming group which is set to reopen the Palms resort this month, and whoever buys any Caesars Entertainment property is up for grabs. .
It’s hard to keep track of all these deals and easy to overlook the mega-deals that have transpired recently, such as the purchase of the Mirage by Hard Rock International and the upcoming redevelopment project that will transform the historic resort into a new Hard Rock. Hotel.
But let’s try to master a few other pieces. Two well-known spots on the Strip that have already seen significant changes over the decades are about to change again: from now on Bally’s will turn into Horseshoe, and very soon the Tropicana will most likely become Bally’s.
Originally opened as the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino at the corner of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard in 1973, Bally’s Las Vegas took on its current name when Bally’s Entertainment purchased it and the Reno resort now known as of Grand Sierra in 1985. Hilton Hotels Corporation acquired the company a decade later, it spun off its resort division into Park Place Entertainment, which was later renamed Caesars Entertainment and acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment in 2005. This company still owns Bally’s today, known again as Caesars after the recent merger with Eldorado Resorts.
Perhaps best identified over the years by its entertainment offerings (including long term Jubilee! show and a string of famous Hall of Fame headliners in the 70s and 80s), Bally’s was rumored to be one of the Strip properties that Caesars could unload. Instead, a bold renovation project is kicking off this spring, using the Horseshoe brand known for gaming, especially poker, and an embrace of the city’s historic Western culture.
The transformation will include a revamped exterior, new entertainment and dining options, and a redesigned casino floor designed around Horseshoe iconography. One of its main draws will almost certainly be the World Series of Poker, which will make its debut there this summer after being held in Rio for the past few years. Caesars acquired the event in 2004 with its purchase of Binion’s Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas, where the tournament originated and has been held for more than 30 years.
The other high-profile spot coming to the new Horseshoe is Ole Red, country music star Blake Shelton’s bar, restaurant and live music venue set to open in 2023 on the Strip across from the station, where a part of the Grand Bazaar Shops outdoor mall currently resides. The three-story, $30 million venue will allow guests to view the Bellagio fountains across the street as they drink, dine and attend a concert.
Less is known about the Tropicana’s transition, but the Horseshoe rebrand would allow the Bally name to be used in the South-Strip resort, which is expected to complete its purchase by the current Bally’s Corporation by the third quarter of this year.
Twin River Holdings bought the Bally’s brand from Caesars in 2020 and changed its own name to Bally’s Corp. In April 2021, the company announced that it was acquiring the Tropicana, originally opened in 1957 and currently operated by Penn Gaming.
In January, Bally’s Corp. Chairman Soohyung Kim said the company plans to reestablish its brand nationwide, including here in Las Vegas.
The company could renovate and redevelop the property, or tear it all down and start fresh, but if a casino continues on the southeast corner of Trop and the Strip, it will almost certainly be under the Bally’s banner.
It’s a plus one minus one. Two iconic Vegas casinos will come back to life, but another will disappear…unless someone builds a new Tropicana.
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