When the Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas opened in 1995, it was the world’s first rock ‘n roll casino imagined by Hard Rock founder Peter Morton. The casino closed in 2020 after a series of owners failed to revive the property’s flagging fortunes. Now another British legend, Richard Branson, has loaned his Virgin brand to the hotel, which is owned by JC Hospitality in partnership with Juniper Capital Partners, Virgin Group, LiUNA, Fengate Asset Management, Dream and Orlando Development.. The operator of the casino is Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, counts the Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotel as its first Las Vegas gaming venture.
Built on the site of the former Hard Rock Hotel at Flamingo and Paradise, the property has twice postponed a grand opening due to the coronavirus pandemic. The third time was the charm, and the 60,000-square foot premium gaming venue debuted to the public at 6 p.m. March 25, welcoming invited guests, celebrities, locals and visitors.
“May we live in a world and may Las Vegas live in a world where we never have to close doors again to our resorts,” said Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and CEO of JC Hospitality and owner of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
The completely redesigned property features three hotel towers, a 60,000 square foot Mohegan Sun casino, an events lawn that takes the place of the former Rehab area of the Hard Rock, a 4,500-seat entertainment venue, the Theater at Virgin, which replaced the Joint at Hard Rock, and a more than a dozen restaurants and retail outlets.
Attending the grand opening were Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment Interim CEO Ray Pineault and Mohegan Tribal Councilors Joe Soper and Ken Davison. Soper and Davison presented tribal gifts to Bosworth and Lou Serafini, president and chief executive officer of Fengate, including a hand-crafted Mohegan gourd, sweetgrass and a Mohegan blanket.
Celebrities in attendance included actor and TV host Mario Lopez, who tossed the ceremonial first dice roll at the craps table, The Bachelor, Matt James and Chrisell Stause of Selling Sunset and Dancing with the Stars; stars of Vanderpump Rules, Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz, and Real Housewives of New Jersey star Melissa Gorga.
The sports book at Mohegan Sun Casino will be operated by BetFred, the British sports betting company, in its first operation in the U.S., once licensing is completed.
The pool area of Virgin will open in May.
“The opening of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is just one more positive sign of the recovery of the Las Vegas economy,” said Bosworth. “We’re excited to have our team members back to work as we prepare to welcome locals and tourists alike at our completely redesigned resort.”