To close in H1, 2023

MGM to sell Mississippi's Gold Strike Tunica operations to Cherokees for $450M; focus solely on Beau Rivage

Gold Strike casino resort in Tunica, Mississippi.
Reading time 2:43 min

Hospitality and entertainment giant MGM Resorts International announced on Thursday an agreement to sell the operations of the Gold Strike casino and resort in Tunica, Mississippi, for $450 million in cash. The operations are to be acquired by Cherokee Nation Entertainment Gaming, a subsidiary of Cherokee Nation Businesses.

According to a press release, the purchase price represents an approximate 11 times multiple on average Adjusted Property EBITDA from 2019-2021. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the first half of 2023.

"I want to thank all of our Gold Strike employees who have consistently delivered world-class gaming and entertainment experiences to our guests," said Bill Hornbuckle, CEO & President, MGM Resorts International. "Gold Strike is a wonderful property with a bright future ahead.”

Strategically, though, we decided to narrow our focus in Mississippi to a single resort – Beau Rivage – and dedicate more of our time and resources towards continuing to drive success at that leading, world-class resort and casino,” explained Hornbuckle in regards to the new move.

Beau Rivage, MGM's second property in the state

For the twelve months ended December 31, 2021, Gold Strike reported a net income of $81.1 million and Adjusted Property EBITDAR of $115 million, which MGM says reflects “benefits from certain market-specific factors in the last year.” In pre-pandemic 2019, the venue reported Adjusted Property EBITDAR of $67 million.

At the closing of the announced transaction, MGM Resorts’ master lease agreement with real estate investment fund VICI Properties Inc., which currently includes Gold Strike, “will be amended to reduce annual rent by $40 million,” MGM stated. The company expects net cash proceeds after taxes and estimated fees to be “approximately $350 million.”

"This is a great outcome for the company as we are able to reprioritize future capital expenditures toward opportunities that will enhance the customer experience at our other locations," said Jonathan Halkyard, CFO & Treasurer, MGM. "We appreciate VICI working constructively with CNE to facilitate a new lease agreement." 

“This transaction continues to demonstrate VICI’s ability to build strong relationships with new partners while working collaboratively with existing tenants to support their strategic objectives,” added John Payne, President and Chief Operating Officer of VICI Properties. “We are pleased to welcome Cherokee Nation Businesses as our ninth gaming tenant.”

Gold Strike opened in 1994 and was acquired by MGM in 2005, and is located about 30 minutes from downtown Memphis. At 32 stories tall, the company describes it as “an iconic property” that is one of the most recognizable buildings in Tunica, towing above all other structures. When it was built, the venue’s gold tower was reported to be the tallest building in Mississippi.

The entertainment giant describes it as a “laid back casino hotel in the upper corner of Tunica,” boasting a modern experience. The 50,000-square-foot casino resort features more than 1,400 reel and video slot machines, plus blackjack, roulette, craps and other gaming, including a sportsbook. Dining options are varied, from formal, sit-down meals to quick-serve takeout.

In terms of nightlife and entertainment experiences, it features stage bars with live music, the trendy Ten10 Wine & Whiskey Bar, a number of shops, and the 800-seat Gold Strike Theater. Meanwhile, its hotel tower features more than 1,100 rooms and suites, many with views of the Mississippi River. It also features a conference and convention center.

For Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation Businesses, the transaction allows the tribe to extend operations to other US markets. “We are excited about the opportunity to grow our gaming and hospitality businesses as we execute on our strategic growth plan to expand our presence outside of the Cherokee Nation Reservation,” said CNB chief executive Chuck Garrett.

While the master lease agreement with VICI will be amended to lower annual rent by $40 million, as stated above, other economic terms are set to remain primarily the same. These include a base term of 25 years, with three 10-year tenant renewal options.

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