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Iconic Las Vegas Strip Casino Makes a Move to Take on Caesars, MGM

TheStreet 1/24/2023 Daniel Kline

Competition on the Strip keeps getting more fierce, so it's good to have allies.

Caesars Entertainment (CZR) - Get Free Report and MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get Free Report have a huge advantage over the rest of the players on the Las Vegas Strip simply due to their sheer size. Basically, when you log onto either company's website, you get access to resort casinos at all price points.

That makes it more likely that someone just looking actually goes through and books a stay. Caesars has eight resort casino properties on the Strip while MGM has nine. Either company can accommodate people looking to book at pretty much any price point.

High-end customers might opt for the Nobu Hotel inside Caesars Palace while MGM can offer MGM Grand, Cosmopolitan, or Aria. At the value end of the spectrum Caesars has Flamingo or the newly-rechristened Horseshoe while MGM can offer Luxor or Excalibur.

It's a strength in numbers model that lets that two companies -- which control roughly half of all Strip properties -- maintain their dominance. That's not something rivals like Wynn Resorts (WYNN) - Get Free Report or even Resorts World Las Vegas can equal, but the gulf is even harder for smaller players like Phil Ruffin's Circus Circus to equal.

Now, while it's certainly not adding a bunch of Strip-based partners, Circus Circus has found a way to be seen by more potential guests.

Image source: Circus Circus Hotel © Provided by TheStreet Image source: Circus Circus Hotel

Circus Circus Joins Choice Hotels  

Circus Circus can't magically add sister properties across the Strip. It has, however, made a move that will put it in front of a lot more tourists who might book the iconic Las Vegas Strip property.

Room as the Las Vegas Strip's only family-friendly hotel can now be booked directly at as Circus Circus has joined the Ascend Hotel Collection, a global portfolio of resort, boutique, and historic hotels.

"We are excited to see Circus Circus rooms available for booking on and to begin being marketed towards the 55 million members of our loyalty program Choice Privileges," said Choice Hotels Senior Vice President Mark Shalala.

Circus Circus will remain an independently-owned brand, but it will now have the extended reach of being on a much larger platform.

"By joining the Ascend Hotel Collection and with Circus Circus now bookable on Choice Hotels channels, this will allow even more guests to have the opportunity to stay at our one-of-a-kind property," said Circus Circus Operations Senior Vice President Shana Gerety."

Circus Circus Tries to Hit a Different Market

In the 1990s, Las Vegas tried to become a family destination. Circus Circus has kept that business model even as the rest of the Las Vegas Strip has moved aggressively toward an adults-only model.

Now, Circus Circus has been trying to fill a niche which makes sense given that it has to offer something different if it hopes to compete with much larger rivals in Caesars. MGM, and Wynn. Ruffin, who also owns Treasure Island, has been willing to invest in the property.   

Ruffin recently put about $30 million into renovating the resort casino, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“The owner that we have now, he is fantastic and he really puts a lot of effort and energy into making Circus Circus better,” said Circus Circus Senior Vice President Shana Gerety told the paper. “A lot of it is just to continue to create Circus Circus to be the property that people thought of back when it was built in 1968,” said Gerety. “Bring back some of the glory days and really try to capture an all-inclusive experience.”

Gerety said that painting will be done to restore the original bright "circus" feel and the signature "big top" will be renovated as well. The resort's pool was also totally revamped, doubling its capacity and giving it a "new resort" look.

In addition, new rides including "NebulaZ and Twistin Tea Cups," have been added to the Adventuredome theme park area.

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