Sale of two MGM Resorts casinos in Reno gets initial regulatory OK

Ethan Miller

Downtown Reno photographed Friday, Feb. 25, 2000.

MGM Resorts International today moved one step closer to wrapping up its sale of two casinos in Reno.

The Gaming Control Board approved Eldorado Resorts Inc.’s previously announced acquisition of Circus Circus Reno and half of the Silver Legacy, both of which are owned by MGM Resorts. Eldorado Resorts already owns the other half of the Silver Legacy.

When the sale was announced in July, Eldorado Resorts said it would pay $72.5 million in cash. After today’s gaming board approval, the transaction heads to the Nevada Gaming Commission for final consideration later this month.

Gary Carano, the chief executive of Eldorado Resorts, told the board that his company is doing well in Northern Nevada, where it also operates the Eldorado Reno resort. That property, Circus Circus Reno and the Silver Legacy are connected by pedestrian bridges.

Positive economic signals bode well for the future of Eldorado Resorts in Reno, Carano said.

“There’s a lot of wind, we say, behind our sails in the economy in Reno,” he said. “We just think that we’re on the front side of a tremendous wave like we’ve never experienced in Reno.”

The acquisition of Circus Circus Reno gives Eldorado Resorts “the opportunity to show some love to the clown,” but the company will need time to get acquainted with the business before it reveals any big plans there, Carano said. In the near future, he said, the company plans to make some relatively minor adjustments, such as upgrading elevator systems.

Board member Terry Johnson praised the acquisitions as “straightforward” ones that indicate Eldorado Resorts has a positive future.

Chairman A.G. Burnett agreed, though he looked forward to hearing more about the future of Circus Circus Reno, a casino that he said could use some help.

Once the sale is complete, Eldorado Resorts will own properties in five markets: Reno, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

It will also further moves MGM Resorts has made to sell some of the properties the company acquired when its predecessor, MGM Mirage, bought Mandalay Resort Group in 2005. MGM Resorts has already sold Railroad Pass in Henderson and the Gold Strike in Jean.