Updated: Hard Rock International hints at Las Vegas resort after acquiring rights to the name Hard Rock Las Vegas Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · May 13, 2020 at 4:20 pm Florida-based Hard Rock International has acquired the rights to the name Hard Rock Hotel Casino Las Vegas and hinted Wednesday at eventually developing or owning a resort under that name. Hard Rock, which is owned by the Seminole Indian Tribe, had licensed and franchised the name for an off-Strip Hard Rock property in Las Vegas. The resort, which went through several management changes, was closed in February by Juniper Capital. The company purchased 1,500-room hotel-casino in 2018 for a reported $500 million in partnership with flamboyant British billionaire Richard Branson. The property is being rebranded as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas and is expected to open later this year. Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, which is controlled by the Mohegan Indian Tribe, has a deal to operate the casino at the property. Hard Rock International CEO James Allen said in a statement the acquisition gives the company exclusive full rights to the name Hard Rock Las Vegas, along with memorabilia, signage and merchandise, intellectual property rights for affiliated restaurant and entertainment trademarks, and website domain names. The transaction removes any restrictions placed on Hard Rock International from “developing, owning, licensing, managing or operating any Hard Rock-branded casino and integrated resort” within Southern Nevada’s Clark County, which includes the Las Vegas Strip. “We look forward to the opportunity of enhancing our presence in Las Vegas, which will always be one of the most iconic entertainment markets in the world,” Allen said. Allen said Hard Rock is an internationally recognized brand “known for amazing experiences and premiere hospitality.” Last year, Hard Rock International acquired the closed Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and converted the Boardwalk resort into Hard Rock Atlantic City. “Hard Rock International will now be able to own and manage the ultimate guest experience in Las Vegas,” according to the statement. Analysts said the Hard Rock name and brand makes perfect sense for Las Vegas. “The Hard Rock brand is about as iconic as it gets, and its mark on the Las Vegas landscape is indelible,” said veteran Las Vegas marketing executive Josh Swissman, who is a partner in The Strategy Organization. “You couple that with a sharp management team and what could be reasonably priced Strip assets for sale in the near future and you have a compelling case to bring back the casino brand that paved the way for catering to a coveted younger demographic. They likely have the balance sheet to pull this off as well.” Eight gaming properties owned by Caesars Entertainment are located on the Strip and several could be up for sale after the company’s $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts is finalized, possibly by the end of June. Eldorado executives said they would consider selling one or two the Caesars properties. Also, Penn National Gaming sold the land and buildings of the Tropicana Las Vegas to real estate investment trust Gaming and Leisure Properties, which said it was looking to sell the resort. “Hard Rock and the Seminole Tribe are well respected in the industry, with significant liquidity and resources to expand to the Strip, even when factoring coronavirus,” said Suntrust Robinson gaming analyst Barry Jonas. “A number of Strip assets are known to be for sale; though one wonders where buyer and seller expectations around valuation are today relative to a few months ago.” Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.