One of the biggest casino-resort deals of all time in the US was recently announced. Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced that it has entered into definitive agreements to sell its Las Vegas real property and operations. The deal includes The Venetian, The Palazzo, and the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Together, these entities make up “The Venetian.” The real estate and operations of the property added up to an aggregate purchase price of approximately $6.25 billion.

Las Vegas Sands no longer operates or owns anything in Las Vegas. In turn, the company is renaming itself as just “Sands” – no more Las Vegas.

The announcement of the sale is just the beginning of the future of The Venetian and The Palazzo. The deal must receive regulatory approvals before the transaction can be entirely finished. That process usually takes two to three months from the date the deal was announced. In this case, the sale was announced on March 2, 2021.

New Owners Of The Venetian

The sale of The Venetian should become official in May or June. When all is said and done, The Venetian and The Palazzo have a new landowner and a new facilities operator. Here’s how the deal breaks down.

Real Estate

VICI Properties Inc. chipped in the bulk of the money for The Venetian. The company will acquire the subsidiaries that hold the real estate and real estate-related assets of The Venetian. VICI will pay approximately $4.0 billion in cash for the real estate of The Venetian.

VICI Properties is a primarily casino real estate owner. The company is a spinoff of Caesars and owns the land under nearly 30 casinos in the US. Most of the land is home to a Caesars casino. In Las Vegas, VICI owns Caesars Palace and Harrah’s. You can see the full list of VICI properties here.

Operations

The language around the operational part of the sale is slightly confusing. Apollo Global Management, Inc. will pay approximately $1.05 billion in cash, subject to certain post-closing adjustments, and $1.2 billion in seller financing in the form of a term loan credit and security agreement. The company is paying an approximate total of $2.25 billion to operate The Venetian and its parts.

Under the terms of the agreement, an affiliate of funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management will acquire subsidiaries that hold the operating assets and liabilities of The Venetian. Apollo has many affiliates around the world. A specific operator wasn’t announced with this deal. There should be some clarity when the deal closes later this year.

Unless an existing casino operator takes over The Venetian, it’s unlikely there will be many changes right away. In the meantime, guests can still enjoy the benefits of the new Grazie Rewards at The Venetian.

Split Ownership

Las Vegas casinos used to be owned and operated by the same company. That’s changed a lot in recent years. This kind of split ownership of real estate and operations is almost becoming normal on the Vegas Strip.

As previously mentioned VICI owns the land under Caesars Palace and Harrah’s. Caesars operates the casinos. Similarly, Dreamscape Companies owns the Rio while Caesars operates the casino. Caesars has another year on the lease that could be operated by another company next year.

Over the past couple of years, MGM Resorts sold the real estate under a few casinos in separate deals. In 2019 MGM sold Bellagio. Last year the company sold MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay. MGM Resorts still operates the properties under long-term leases. There hasn’t been a noticeable change in operations at any of the properties.

Penn National Gaming sold the land under Tropicana to a real estate company for five months of rent last year. While the company still operates the casino, it could be available for another business to purchase. There could be changes at Tropicana if the operator sells its rights to the casino.

The split deals are interesting because they’re different than casino sales in the past. While the landowner can make physical changes to the grounds, the day-to-day operations are what matter most when visiting Las Vegas.

Nothing has changed with the operations at the casinos above since the land was sold. The price of land in Las Vegas is high. It’s less expensive in the short-term for a company to pay rent and operate the properties.

It’s most helpful to your Las Vegas experience to keep track of the actual casino operator. This is the company that will dictate gambling rules and odds along with the everyday operation of the property.

Marc

Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.
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