MGM Resorts Sells Circus Circus for $825M

The 51-year-old Las Vegas hotel and casino was acquired by billionaire casino mogul Phil Ruffin.
Circus Circus hotel and casino. Image via Pixabay

Citing its commitment to an asset-light strategy, MGM Resorts International has closed on the sale of the Circus Circus Las Vegas hotel and casino and a 37-acre festival site to an affiliate of billionaire Phil Ruffin for $825 million. The purchase price is comprised of $662.5 million in cash and a $162.5 million note due in 2024.

The transaction comes about a month after MGM Resorts sold the Bellagio in a sale-leaseback deal with Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust for $4.25 billion. MGM Resorts, which took a 5 percent stake in BREIT, leased the property back from the joint venture and will continue to manage the property. The Bellagio and Circus Circus deals were both announced on Oct. 15.

Circus Circus, which opened in 1968 on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, has 2,300 employees and is home to the Adventuredome, a 5-acre indoor amusement park; a 10-acre RV park and 37-acre festival grounds.


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MGM Resorts had owned the asset since 2005, when it was acquired through the Mandalay Resort Group merger. Various Las Vegas media outlets are reporting that MGM Resorts is also considering selling Mandalay Bay and possibly doing a sale-leaseback deal for its MGM Grand property.

Ruffin’s Plans

Ruffin owns Treasure Island Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, a stake in the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas and Casino Miami in Florida. He told the NGC that he plans to replace the Circus Circus RV Park with a sand and beach pool with a wave machine and build a 2,000-seat theater that could possibly house a Cirque du Soleil show, “The Illusionists,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He also plans to update the casino. The Adventuredome and a popular steakhouse will remain and nearly all the current employees are expected to be rehired. The name of the property will not be changed following the deal.

DLA Piper Team

DLA Piper represented Ruffin in the transaction. Jeff Diener, a partner in the San Francisco office, led the firm’s deal team. Along with Diener, the team included partners Sandra Kellman (Chicago), Casey Sobhani (Los Angeles), Ryan Girnun (Miami), Harriet Lipkin and Rita Patel (both of Washington, D.C.), Craig Anderson (Dallas); of counsels Lucien White (New York), Damon Lewis, (Washington, D.C.), and Adam Baas (San Francisco). Associates on the team were Adam Long (Chicago), Vicente Reyes (San Francisco), Ryan King (Los Angeles) and Andy Zollinger (Dallas).