MGM Resorts to develop project in Louisiana
By Howard Stutz
LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana — MGM Resorts International bought its way into the Louisiana gaming market Thursday through a joint venture with Las Vegas-based Creative Casinos to develop and operate a project in Lake Charles.
The company’s real targets, however, are Houston and other communities in customer-rich Texas.
Analysts said running the planned 400-room Mojito Pointe hotel-casino in Lake Charles, roughly 145 miles east of Houston and its roughly 6 million residents, gives MGM Resorts a foothold near an important feeder market to Las Vegas and an edge in attracting new visitors to its 10 Strip resorts.
Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Andrew Zarnett estimated that 50 percent of visitors from Southern states to Las Vegas come from Texas.
Union Gaming Group principal Bill Lerner said Mojito Pointe could open the Lake Charles market to other Texas cities, such as Austin and San Antonio, which would eventually benefit MGM Resorts.
“(The partnership) becomes quite attractive in our view,” Lerner said.
Financial terms of the deal between MGM Resorts and Creative, which is privately owned by longtime gaming executive Dan Lee, were not revealed.
According to a joint statement, MGM Resorts gains an undisclosed ownership stake and would manage Mojito Pointe, which will be designed and developed by Creative. The agreement will place Mojito Pointe into MGM Resort’s M Life customer loyalty program. Also, Mojito Pointe would have access to MGM Resort’s database of customers worldwide.
MGM Resorts now operates two hotel-casinos in the south, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in the Gulf Coast community of Biloxi, Miss., and the Gold Strike Casino ResortTunica in northern Mississippi, which attracts customers from nearby Memphis, Tenn.