Hard Rock International CEO Allen Says Company Has Eyes on Vegas Strip, Mentions Pair of Caesars Casinos

Posted on: October 22, 2019, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: October 22, 2019, 11:01h.

Hard Rock International, the gaming operator controlled by Florida’s Seminole Tribe, no longer has a property in Las Vegas. But CEO Jim Allen said the company is looking to change that, and specifically mentioned two Strip venues currently controlled by Caesars Entertainment as potential avenues for the firm reentering Sin City.

Hard Rock is looking to get back into Las Vegas with eyes on a pair of Strip properties. (Image LA Times)

Last year, it was revealed that billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels would take control of the off-Strip Hard Rock in Las Vegas. When that venue reopens late next year, it will sport the Virgin brand with gaming operations run by Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, the casino unit of Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe.

Certainly on the Strip is one of the possibilities,” said Allen in a Monday interview with Bloomberg Radio. “We look at this as a great opportunity for our brand.”

Allen was careful to note that Hard Rock currently isn’t evaluating specific Las Vegas opportunities. The company is set to debut a $1.5 billion expansion at a Florida property later this week.

Ideas And Rejections

In the Bloomberg Radio interview, the Hard Rock CEO said the company would not be interested in the Cosmopolitan, a Strip venue controlled by private equity firm Blackstone that’s widely believed to be for sale for $4 billion. Last week, Blackstone plunked down $4.25 billion to acquire the Bellagio from MGM Resorts International.

Allen did, however, say in the radio spot that Planet Hollywood is “very interesting” and Bally’s is situated on “one of the more legendary corners on the Las Vegas Strip” and is “one of the possibilities,” according to Bloomberg.

Both of those casinos are currently owned by Caesars. Eldorado Resorts, the regional gaming company in the midst of acquiring Caesars, is widely believed to be eyeing sales of one or two Strip assets when that deal is sewn up next year.

Hard Rock could face competition for Bally’s and Planet Hollywood if those venues are officially put up for sale. As part of a broader agreement struck with Eldorado the day that company announced the Caesars deal, Vici Properties has rights of first refusal on up to two deals involving Caesars’ Strip casinos, including Bally’s and Planet Hollywood.

Fingers In Lots Of Pies

In addition to the Florida enhancements and potential Vegas overtures, Hard Rock is busy in other regions. The company’s bid to bring a casino to Rockford, Ill. was recently endorsed by local politicians and is being sent to the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) for approval.

Additionally, Hard Rock is one of two companies (Mohegan Gaming is the other) vying to open an integrated resort on the premises of an abandoned airport outside of Athens. Greek officials are expected to announce the winning bidder next month.

Hard Rock is also among a slew of international gaming companies competing for one of three licenses in Japan. In the Bloomberg interview, Allen acknowledged that although the Seminole Tribe has a tidy balance sheet, an integrated resort project in Japan is likely to be pricey.