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The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Dec. 14, 2021. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Strip is on the brink of a new era — its iconic properties are getting new owners at a rate rarely seen before.

Why it matters: This year's historic number of deals on the Strip hint at huge trends reshaping the gaming industry and America's longtime gambling capital.

  • "It's rare to see so many transactions this close together. We can go years without seeing a Las Vegas Strip casino change hands. It's a unique environment right now," says John DeCree of Union Gaming, an advisory firm.

By the numbers: There were seven deals that saw a casino's property or its operations snapped up this year — the most since at least 2015, per CreditSights.

What's happening: The Mirage is the latest to land a new owner: MGM Resorts this week said it would sell the hotel and casino's operations to Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, for about $1 billion in cash.

It's among the flurry of transactions where the Strip's most well-known players are swapping properties that have come to define Vegas.

  • Take Las Vegas Sands, which after this year won't own any hotels or casinos in its namesake city. It's selling everything (including its flagship Venetian resort) to real estate giant VICI Properties and private equity firm Apollo Global Management in a deal worth over $6 billion — the year's biggest Vegas-centric transaction.

The intrigue: The changes come amid a wild frenzy for casino operators to nab gaming licenses and set up shop in other nascent betting hubs, including New York City. They're also eyeing the online betting boom.

What they're saying: "It's not like Vegas is the only place they can make money anymore. They're saying 'we can make money in different parts of the country too — and abroad,'" says James Goldstein, an analyst at CreditSights.

  • Las Vegas Sands, for instance, is ditching Vegas to double down on Macao and Singapore.

Yes, but: Plenty see a lot to love in Vegas, particularly as the Strip stages an impressive comeback from its pandemic shutdown — though the latest coronavirus wave might deliver a big blow.

  • Casino operator Bally’s — which is also trying to dominate online betting — will get its first-ever foothold in Las Vegas: It said this year it would buy the operations of the Tropicana casino, one of the oldest resorts on the Strip, for $150 million.
  • And while MGM may be giving up The Mirage, it said in September it would buy the operations of the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. That means that it won't technically be losing any exposure to Vegas at all, though it is "consolidating towards the south end of the Strip," says DeCree.

Go deeper

Biden to attend Harry Reid's funeral in Nevada

Then-Vice President Joe Biden greets retiring Sen. Harry Reid during a portrait unveiling ceremony for Reid in the Russell Building on Dec. 8, 2016. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Biden will attend former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) funeral on Saturday, the White House said Tuesday.

The big picture: Reid died on Dec. 29 at 82 after battling pancreatic cancer. The influential politician, who retired after 30 years in Congress, served with Biden for decades and cultivated a close friendship with the president.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker