MGM Resorts recently announced the sale of Bellagio and Circus Circus. They will continue to operate Bellagio under a long-term lease from the new owner. Phil Ruffin, owner of Treasure Island, will operate Circus Circus.
Let’s take at the two sales to see how they’ll affect your next visit to Las Vegas.
This is the bigger of the two casino names sold but it’s a less interesting deal. The sale announcement states that MGM Resorts will continue to operate Bellagio. The casino will remain part of M Life Rewards and you shouldn’t expect to see major changes.
The deal is interesting if you’re curious about the industry but there shouldn’t be anything that matters to any vacations in the near future. Moving on…
Who knew that the sale of Circus Circus could be so interesting?! MGM Resorts sold Circus Circus and the land being used for the Las Vegas Festival Grounds to Phil Ruffin for $825 million. The future of the property is only in doubt because there’s so much potential with all of this land.
Ruffin has wanted to buy Circus Circus for a few years. He tells the Las Vegas Sun that already has plans for the future of the property. The most important thing to note is that the DNA of Circus Circus will remain intact. Ruffin plans to keep the property affordable for families.
No room renovations
The idea of keeping Circus Circus as an affordable family property makes sense. There’s demand for fairly priced hotel rooms in Las Vegas. His other property, Treasure Island, is always packed with families when I visit.
It appears that some of Treasure Island’s executives will work with Circus Circus. Having similarly aligned properties will allow the company to maximize its marketing dollars. This could create real synergy between the two properties.
The downside to keeping prices low means that Circus Circus hotel rooms will not be renovated. Any construction costs would have to be recouped. Ruffin thinks it’s more important to keep prices down in the immediate future. He’s probably right. The rooms can be updated in the future.
Keeping with the affordable mantra, Ruffin says Circus Circus will not charge for parking.
Goodbye RV Park, Hello Pool Complex
There will also likely be less lodging options at Circus Circus. Ruffin will repurpose the land that’s currently being used as an RV Park. He told the Las Vegas Sun “That’s expensive dirt and I think maybe we could do something else with it.”
Circus Circus will replace the 10-acre RV Park with a massive pool complex that’s similar to the massive Mandalay Bay Beach. Plans call for a similar sandy beach pool complex with a wave pool. It wouldn’t be a surprise to also see a lazy river.
This addition would make the Circus Circus pool complex the best on the north end of the Vegas Strip.
The first renovation Ruffin plans for Circus Circus is to update Slots-A-Fun. The small casino section at Circus Circus extends out to the Vegas Strip. It’s in bad shape but this could become a fun entry to the casino if done right.
Ruffin can simply modernize the non-gambling/gambling section of the property. It’s easy to imagine something similar to Re:Match bar at The Linq. The space can be used in so many ways that Ruffin can go outside the box if he’s looking to put his own stamp on the property.
According to CDC Gaming Reports, the Circus Circus casino will see a renovation that includes Stadium Gaming.
William Hill Sportsbook
Circus Circus isn’t a casino many sports bettors visit. In fact, it surprises some that the casino has a sportsbook. Further, the Circus Circus sportsbook is surprisingly nice!
When the sale goes through, Ruffin will farm out the operation of the Circus Circus sportsbook instead of using the team from Treasure Island. As of the writing of this article, William Hill is looking for a sportsbook manager for Circus Circus.
William Hill operates more than 100 sportsbooks in Nevada including several on the Vegas Strip.
Goodby Festival Grounds, Hello Entertainment Complex
The 37-acre Las Vegas Festival Grounds next door to Circus Circus will become an entertainment complex according to Ruffin. Even though he’s been offered deals to flip the land, he’d rather keep it.
The entertainment complex should work nicely as a complement to Circus Circus. I don’t use Wikipedia as a direct resource often but it’s been useful to understand what a family-friendly entertainment center could have.
Here’s a list of some items that Family Entertainment Centers offer:
Amusement/thrill rides (elevated, but generally small-scale)
Food: Snack bar and fast food (especially pizza)
Food: Quality family and group dining in theme restaurant
Kiddie rides (ground-level)
Music and dancing
Playground equipment and climbing structures
Redemption games and merchandiser games
Specialty shops (toys, comics, music, etc.)
Some of these items like a water slide already exist at Circus Circus so maybe they wouldn’t need to be included. However, many of these attractions would make sense for a neighboring property.
Ruffin told the Sun that the entertainment center “could be a billion-dollar deal.” There’s potential that this could become a legit destination on the Vegas Strip for tourists as well as locals.
New Theater Outside Of Circus Circus
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Ruffin told the Nevada Gaming Control Board that he is planning to build an $11 million theater in front of the casino. Following the Treasure Island model with Mystere, he plans on using a Cirque du Soliel show to fill the theater regularly.
If the same model of theater entertainment is used at Circus Circus, expect to see standup comedy to fill the nights when the show is dark.