The Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. Photo: George Rose/Getty Images

The Blackstone Group is in "advanced talks" to buy and lease back the Bellagio and MGM Grand Las Vegas hotels and casinos from MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM), per Bloomberg. No financial terms were disclosed, but an earlier Bloomberg report valued the combined properties at around $7 billion.

Why it matters: This would be Blackstone's largest bet on the Vegas strip, where it has a mixed history.

  • The firm paid around $1.7 billion for the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino in 2014, and reportedly considered shopping it earlier this year with a $4 billion asking price.
  • But it also was part of disastrous pre-crisis deal for Harrah's, which later became known as Caesars Entertainment.

Lotta chips: Blackstone recently closed the largest real-estate private equity fund of all time, with $20.5 billion in commitments.

The bottom line: "Property sales free up cash for casino companies to expand while letting them continue to manage their resorts," per Bloomberg.

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Mike Allen, author of AM
12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' Armageddon option

A makeshift memorial outside the Supreme Court yesterday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Furious Democrats are considering total war — profound changes to two branches of government, and even adding stars to the flag — if Republicans jam through a Supreme Court nominee, then lose control of the Senate.

On the table: Adding Supreme Court justices ... eliminating the Senate's 60-vote threshold to end filibusters ... and statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico. "If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021," Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) tweeted.

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 30,814,638 — Total deaths: 957,632— Total recoveries: 21,068,829Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 6,766,724 — Total deaths: 199,268 — Total recoveries: 2,577,446 — Total tests: 94,211,463Map.
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Trump's health secretary asserts control over all new rules, including for vaccines

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and President Donald Trump. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any "regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products, including vaccines," the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The story further underscores reporting that health and scientific agencies are undergoing a deep politicization as the Trump administration races to develop a coronavirus vaccine, as Axios' Caitlin Owens has reported. Dr. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times the Azar memo amounted to a "power grab."