Casino at the Fashion Show Mall site

Howard Hughes plans for a Strip casino a good sign for the gambling industry, according to experts

Reading time 2:13 min

Howard Hughes Corporation, known for its master-planned community Summerlin in Las Vegas, is now eyeing the possibility of developing a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. While the company lacks direct experience in the gaming industry, its track record in real estate development could position it as a strong contender for this project.

Michael Green, a history professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), told Las Vegas Review-Jounral: "They have a successful business track record. The oddity is that they have no real experience with casinos, so they’re going to have to figure that out."

Michael Green

David Schwartz, a gaming historian and professor at UNLV, noted that the construction of casinos often faces regulatory hurdles and delays. However, the interest from a company like Howard Hughes Holdings, which has not been actively engaged in gaming, suggests optimism for future industry growth.

People who are not in the market right now want to get in, which is a positive, it means that they think that it’s primed for future growth,” Schwartz told Review-Journal.

The parent company of Howard Hughes, Howard Hughes Holdings, recently announced plans to create a spinoff division called Seaport Entertainment. This new division will oversee entertainment operations, including an 80% interest in the air rights above the Fashion Show Mall, earmarked for the potential casino project.

Fashion Show Mall, owned by Brookfield Properties, holds the remaining 20% interest in the air rights above the property. As of now, no formal development plans have been submitted to Clark County or the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Both Howard Hughes and Fashion Show have refrained from commenting on the matter.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not conducted any aeronautical studies related to the Fashion Show property. However, the FAA did conduct two studies on the block north of Fashion Show, concluding that a building up to 640 feet could be constructed without disrupting aviation operations.

While specific plans are yet to be unveiled, Howard Hughes has appointed Anton Nikodemus, a seasoned gaming executive, to lead Seaport Entertainment. Nikodemus, currently the president and COO of CityCenter for MGM Resorts, brings a wealth of experience to the team.

He has overseen operations for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Vdara, and the Aria, in addition to managing the development of MGM Resort's National Harbor Hotel in Maryland and MGM Springfield in Massachusetts.

Nikodemus also serves as vice chair on the board of directors of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. His last day with MGM Resorts is scheduled for November 20, after which he will assume the role of CEO at Seaport Entertainment under a five-year term, subject to annual renewals, with a base salary of $1.25 million.

Apart from potential casino endeavors, Seaport Entertainment will take charge of various other operations, including the Las Vegas Aviators Triple-A baseball team, Howard Hughes' stake in Jean-Georges Restaurants (which has multiple locations, including two in Las Vegas), and oversight of the Seaport neighborhood in New York City.

While Howard Hughes Holdings has not been directly involved in the gaming industry for some time, this venture could mark a return to the sector. The company's namesake, Howard Hughes, accumulated six resorts and casinos in Las Vegas during the 20th century. However, after his passing, these gaming properties were divested as the company shifted its focus to real estate development.

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