Regulators Finalize Seminole Tribe’s Purchase Of Las Vegas Strip Casino

Written By TJ McBride on January 4, 2023
Hard Rock completes purchase of Mirage on Vegas Strip

It’s not a mirage. Well, not anymore.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida became the first Native American tribe to own a casino on the Las Vegas Strip after Nevada regulators approved its purchase of the iconic Mirage Hotel and Casino at the end of 2022.

Casino resort bought for $1.075 billion

The Seminoles operate six casinos in Florida and have been branching out to other states for several years. Under its corporate umbrella, Hard Rock International, the tribe entered into a purchase agreement with MGM resorts for the property in December 2021. As a result, Hard Rock International gained a strong foothold in Vegas.

Regulators finalized the purchase on Dec. 16. The hotel still is operating under The Mirage name, but it is officially under tribal ownership. The tribe will eventually rebrand and renovate to resemble its other Hard Rock locations. 

MGM sold the legendary hotel and casino for nearly $1.1 billion in cash. Bill Hornbuckle, chief executive officer and president of MGM Resorts International, was happy the deal finally went through after a year of negotiations. His company owns several casinos on the Strip, including the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay.

“We are thrilled to welcome Hard Rock to the neighborhood and wish them all the very best.”

The $1.075 billion deal became official when the Nevada Gaming Commission approved the sale at a special meeting. The casino features a 3,000-room hotel and sits on 80 acres of Las Vegas Strip real estate. While the Florida tribe became the first to operate a Las Vegas Strip casino, other federally recognized tribes already operate casinos in the city.  

The California-based San Manuel Band of Mission Indians operates Palms Casino Resort, located just west of the Strip. On the east side, Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe bought the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas – formerly the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino – in 2018. The Seminole Tribe was not affiliated with the previous Hard Rock Las Vegas. However, it did buy the exclusive naming rights of the Hard Rock brand from the company.

Volcano outside Mirage will become a giant guitar

The Florida-based Hard Rock International has extensive plans to redevelop the hotel and casino. The company told the Tampa Bay Times it will replace the volcano feature that sits in front of The Mirage with the same guitar-shaped tower from its flagship Florida resort in Hollywood.

“The process … ultimately, will dramatically reimagine every aspect of the resort and change the Las Vegas skyline with the addition of a guitar-shaped hotel tower.”

Jim Allen, Hard Rock chairman, said the guitar-shaped hotel will be purple. It will also feature beams of light representing the six strings on a guitar.

“We are excited to create an integrated resort on the Strip that will make this legendary entertainment community proud.”

Operations at resort will remain the same for now

Hard Rock said there are no immediate plans to close the resort nor lay off any of the 3,500 employees.

[The day-to-day operations] “are set to continue under The Mirage brand for the foreseeable future, and all room reservations and group bookings will be honored with no action required by guests or group organizers.”

Photo by AP / John Locher
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TJ McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He covers the gaming landscape across multiple states in addition to his main beat covering the NBA's Denver Nuggets. His NBA work can be found at several major media outlets including ESPN, FiveThirtyEight and Bleacher Report.

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