Las Vegas casinos hope for a boost from McGregor fight, UFC 229

Strip casinos are set for a Conor McGregor bump this weekend as thousands of UFC fans pour into town to watch the Irish mixed martial arts fighter take on Russian counterpart Khabib Nurmagomedov on Saturday night in UFC 229.

Room rates have jumped for Friday and Saturday and clubs are gearing up for packed parties following the rumble at T-Mobile Arena. Nobu Hotel, the high-end boutique inside Caesars Palace, is sold out Friday as casinos dish out free tickets to high rollers.

However, the spike in resort revenues this weekend is unlikely to alter gaming investors’ bearish outlook on Strip operators, analysts said.

“It’s going to be a great weekend for the Strip and we are likely to see high gaming volumes, but it is hard to get the investment community excited,” said Union Gaming analyst John DeCree. “There is still a little bit of uncertainty about about how strong the Vegas market will bounce back in the fourth quarter.”

Fourth quarter

Strip casinos have been on a bad roll over the past three months as fewer events, especially fights, have caused a drop in the number of visitors to Las Vegas. That has pulled down room rates and revenues across the Strip.

The decline has surprised gaming investors, who expected the strongest U.S. economic growth in years and lowest jobless rate in five decades to put more cash in people’s pockets for a trip to Las Vegas.

Investors have been dumping shares of MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp, the two largest Strip resort operators by properties, sending them tumbling more than 14 percent since August to near 52-week lows.

MGM Resorts and Caesars executives said during August conference calls they expect a rebound in the fourth quarter as the Strip will host more events. During an investor conference in September, Caesars executives highlighted the Conor McGregor fight as one reason it expects the fourth-quarter to be better.


Nobu’s 189 rooms are all booked for Friday and selling for $1,000 for Saturday, triple the rate for Saturday Oct. 13. Bellagio king rooms are selling for $429 per night this weekend, a 50 percent premium compared with Oct. 12 and 13. MGM Grand queen rooms are selling 33 percent higher and Caesars king rooms 25 percent more.

Fights can boost the MGM Resort’s Strip quarterly revenue per available room by as much as 1 percent, said Chad Beynon, an analyst at Macquarie.

Floyd Mayweather announced last month he will fight Manny Pacquiao in December. If the fight is held in Las Vegas, it will further support a Strip rebound, Beynon said.

“I think that would make this quarter significantly better than what we were thinking,” he said.

UFC Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said the economic impact from the fight will last well beyond the weekend. The fight has nearly 3 million pay-per-view buys, the third largest in history. The broadcast will generate a “huge amount” of advertisement for the city, he said.

“As part of the telecast the city of Las Vegas will be integrated into that broadcast. Whether it is a vanity shot of the Strip, or the hottest nightclubs, the Bellagio fountains — those positive images will be sent” to the millions of people watching, he said.

UFC fans

A MGM Resorts presentation to Wall Street analysts in May showed that fight fans are among the most lucrative Strip clients.

That is backed up by a 2016 study conducted by Las Vegas research firm Applied Analysis for UFC.

UFC fans spend nearly $4,000 per visit to Las Vegas, more than three times the amount spent by the typical traveler, according to Applied Analysis. They also tend to have higher incomes and stay longer.

Nearly 90 percent of UFC ticket holders said they would not have come to Las Vegas for the weekend were it not for the fight, according to the study.

UFC has sold 20,000 tickets, implying that as many as 18,000 fans could be traveling to Las Vegas for the battle.

“This is a very big weekend. People are coming from Australia and all parts of Mexico to watch this fight,” said high roller RJ Cipriani, who traveled from Los Angeles to see the fight this weekend.

Contact Todd Prince at 702-383-0386 or Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like