It's not your imagination -- MGM Resorts International (formerly MGM MIRAGE) is one of the world's largest gaming firms. The company's more than 15 partially or wholly owned properties include some of the biggest names on the Las Vegas Strip, including MGM Grand, The Mirage, and the Monte Carlo, as well as Luxor, Bellagio, and Mandalay Bay. MGM Resorts also owns or has a stake in other casinos in Nevada, as well as in Michigan (MGM Grand Detroit) and Mississippi (Beau Rivage). Internationally, it operates in China and Dubai. The company changed its name from MGM MIRAGE in 2010 to better reflect its family of hotel brands and its expanding global presence. Founder Kirk Kerkorian owns more than 20% of the firm.
MGM Resorts showed an improved earnings report in 2011 compared to a dismal 2010; overall revenue (excluding MGM China) increased by 4% compared to 2010, as the Las Vegas market began showing signs of recovery, the result of an uptick in travel and tourism there. Its profits also increased significantly in 2011; however, the company would have continued to report losses if not for an income tax benefit it received in the fourth quarter.
Much of the company's woes come from the fact that its long-term debt is worth a staggering $13.6 billion, much of it incurred to finance its ambitious CityCenter project. The mega-resort, located on a 66-acre site between the company's Bellagio and Monte Carlo casinos on the Las Vegas strip, cost some $8.5 billion. CityCenter includes Aria Resort and Casino, the Vdara Hotel & Spa, the Mandarin Hotel & Luxury Residence complex, and the Crystals Shopping, Dining, and Entertainment mall. After several delays, CityCenter eventually opened as a joint venture with Dubai World (a holding company for the Persian Gulf state that manages the government of Dubai's business projects). The property failed to meet high expectations, and has reported losses since it opened (in 2009, 2010, and 2011).
The company owns a little more than half of its assets in China, through its 51%-owned MGM China, which completed a $1.4 billion IPO in 2011. MGM Resorts is also developing Bellagio, MGM Grand, and Skylofts hotels in Dubai that are expected to open in 2013. A joint venture hotel in Shanghai is also set to open in 2015. Despite these plans, the company still earns the majority of revenues from its Las Vegas operations. Analysts fault MGM for its US-heavy portfolio, and for entering the Chinese market relatively late in the game compared to rivals such as Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts.
The company's MGM China is also partially-owned by private Macau casino developer Pansy Ho. Before MGM China's 2011 IPO, New Jersey regulators issued a report declaring Ho an ''unsuitable'' business partner for MGM, because of allegations her father Stanley Ho has had ties to organized crime. The government finding jeopardized MGM Resorts' license for its Borgata casino in Atlantic City, and MGM must sell its 50% share in the New Jersey property in 2013 in order to maintain its joint venture in Macau. (Borgata is also a joint venture; Boyd Gaming owns the other half and operates the resort.)
MGM Resorts was formed when MGM Grand acquired Mirage Resorts in 2000. The company shot to the top of the gaming world in 2005 when it acquired rival Mandalay Resort Group for $7.9 billion. However, Harrah's Entertainment surpassed MGM Resorts after it merged with Caesars. (Harrah's later changed its name to Caesars Entertainment.) – less