Phil Ruffin’s recent acquisition of Circus Circus and a parcel of land nearby are not intended to be flipped.
Ruffin’s $825 million purchase of the iconic Las Vegas Strip property, which includes 37 acres on the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, plans to hang on to the land.
“I’ve been approached by a lot of developers, but we’re not interested in selling,” Ruffin said after meeting with the Nevada Gaming Control Board. “It’s a great parcel, a great piece of land.”
Ruffin, 84, who also owns Treasure Island – now rebranded as TI – agreed in October to acquire the 4,000-room hotel-casino and the surrounding land on the north end of the Strip from MGM Resorts International, which plans to use the sale’s proceeds to pay down the company’s debt.
According to CDC Gaming Reports, Ruffin said Circus Circus’ Adventure Dome indoor theme park isn’t going anywhere, but the 10-acre recreational vehicle park adjacent to the hotel-casino will be replaced in favor of a swimming pool complex similar to Mandalay Bay’s down the Strip, which includes sand beaches and a lazy river water ride.
“Goodbye RV park,” Ruffin said. “We’re not doing that anymore. It’s a good spot for a swimming pool.”
The Circus Circus casino itself will be renovated to include a “stadium-style gaming” area that Ruffin said has been successful at TI, and the property’s hotel rooms will be renovated over time, but the price point – Circus Circus offers some of the lowest nightly rates on the Strip – will not change.
“Circus Circus is a different demographic than TI,” Ruffin said. “There is always a demand for a lower (nightly room price) on the Strip. The property does well. We anticipate doing $50 million a year in cash flow. That’s a 10 percent return. Plus, we get all the dirt.”
Circus Circus is the only property currently in the MGM portfolio that does not charge for parking, an aspect Ruffin won’t change. Parking also remains free at TI.
“I think (paid parking) is a stupid idea,” Ruffin said.
Ruffin said the Circus Circus sportsbook would be leased to sports betting operator William Hill US. However, he has no plans to turn over the TI sportsbook to William Hill.