The Hard Rock Las Vegas will begin a two-year long transition into the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas early next year, the head of the property’s ownership told the Nevada Gaming Control Board Wednesday.
The regulatory hearing was to grant preliminary approval to Warner Gaming, the management company that has overseen the Hard Rock’s casino for the last seven years. Warner Gaming, which is headed by longtime casino executive Bill Warner, will continue to operate the casino during the two-year transition.
Richard Bosworth, the president and CEO of JC Hospitality, which is overseeing the Hard Rock, said a new casino management team could be identified “within the next month or two.” He said after the control board hearing the ownership has been meeting with potential casino operators.
The 1,504-room off-Strip resort was acquired in late March by an investors group that included Bosworth, Juniper Capital Partners, Fengate Real Asset Investments (who in turn have the partners Dream, Cowie Capital Partners, and other private investors) and Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels.
Branson, the celebrity British businessman and founder of the Virgin Group conglomerate, did not attend the regulatory hearing in Las Vegas.
He told the Gaming Control Board the entire property will be renovated, with new restaurants, a re-branded casino, remodeled hotel rooms and other new amenities. The Hard Rock theme, he said, is being replaced by Virgin Hotels.
Because of lease obligations, a few restaurants currently at the Hard Rock will remain during the transition.
Bosworth didn’t put a price figure on the transition costs.
“We’ve said we will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to transform the property,” Bosworth said. “That’s the figure we will stick with.”
Warner told the control board there will be “lots of disruption” over the next two years as the transition takes place. He said the management company has agreed to extend its contract an additional year, if needed.
Bosworth said the entire transition to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas should be completed in 2020.
The control board recommended approval for the casino management contract. The matter will be decided by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Sept. 20.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.