Native-Indian tribe makes biggest ever casino purchase

by William Brown Last Updated
Native-Indian tribe makes biggest ever casino purchase

A Las Vegas casino has been purchased by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for $650 million.

Bloomberg reports that the sale of the Palms Casino Resort from Red Rock Resorts represents the biggest purchase by a Native-Indian tribe in the US gambling capital.

The tribe operates the San Manuel Casino in Highland, California, near Los Angeles.

That property has been open for 35 years and is undergoing an expansion of its casino and hotel.

The Palms sale, announced Tuesday, is expected to close later this year.

Indian gaming has become a huge business in the United States, reaching nearly $35 billion in 2019 before the pandemic crippled travel and spending.

There are some 245 tribes operating casinos in 29 states.

And while tribes have long been expanding beyond their traditional reservations, they’ve only recently set their sites on Las Vegas.

More than 45,000 cars a day travelled to Nevada from Southern california in March, about one third of all auto traffic to the city, creating a marketing opportunity for the new owner.

San Manuel chief executive officer Laurens Vosloo said in an interview that the tribe has been seeking to diversify, adding an event centre that will open this year in California and looking beyond the state for investments.

The tribe will keep the Palms name for now and target a customer similar to the bread-and-butter gambler it attracts in California, not the younger, nightlife-driven clientele the property had embraced, he said.

“We have maybe a little different strategy, that caters to a different crowd, more of a gaming crowd,” Vosloo said.

Hard Rock yet to announce Vegas plans

Hard Rock International, owned by Florida’s Seminole tribe, acquired the rights to the Hard Rock name in Las Vegas last year.

It has a restaurant in the city but has yet to announce casino plans.

The old Hard Rock, just off the city’s famous Strip, reopened in March under the Virgin Hotels brand.

Its casino is operated by the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut under their Mohegan Sun brand, marking the first entry of a Native-American gaming operator in the city.

The Palms casino, which is also located off of the Strip, was opened in 2001 by the city’s Maloof family.

It was one of the hottest nightlife spots in Las Vegas for a time, hosting music videos and reality TV shows.

Red Rock, controlled by the Fertitta family, purchased it in 2016 for $313 million and began a $690 million renovation that included a focus on contemporary art.

The resort never quite regained its prior buzz however, and has been closed since the pandemic began last year.

On a conference call with investors, the Fertittas said the sale to San Manuel gives Red Rock an opportunity to focus on its core business of casinos that target Las Vegas residents.

New Hard Rock casino on the verge of opening

The opening of a new $300 million Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in Gary is set to take place this month, after the Indiana Gaming Commission ticked off the venue, despite allegations of financial wrongdoing by the developer’s former top executive.

Hard Rock Casino executive Jon Lucas said the new casino was expected to open to the public on May 15.

The new casino, along Interstate 80/94 will replace the existing Majestic Star casino along Lake Michigan.

The developer of the planned $125 million casino in Terre Haute told the commission that a late April groundbreaking is planned for the project.

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