The Las Vegas Strip has somehow come through the covid pandemic stronger than it was in 2019. Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get a free report and MGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get a free report both made major moves with MGM selling Mirage and buying Cosmopolitan while Caesars rebranded Bally’s under its Horseshoe brand.
Additionally, Caesars spent the year teasing the sale of Flamingo but ultimately did not close the deal. It’s been a comeback year for the twin titans of Las Vegas with the crowds returning, a triumphant NFL Draft and conventions gearing up for a normal 2023.
The story of Las Vegas in 2023 — at least at the start of the year — won’t be what Caesars and MGM predicted. That could change, of course, but the biggest changes coming to Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip in 2023 won’t come from the two dominant players on the Strip.
In 2022, Las Vegas added 1,335 guest rooms and 225,000 square feet of convention space, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LCVS). This growth is set to explode in 2023.
“The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s tourism construction bulletin – listing what’s on the development horizon – shows that $3.2 billion in projects will come online by the end of 2023 with 4,758 new hotel rooms and 581,000 square feet of new convention space,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
It’s exciting, but new casinos and a huge new entertainment venue could be the second biggest story in Las Vegas this New Year.
Legal drinking is coming to Las Vegas
Las Vegas has legal cannabis, but although the law seems simple, there is one major problem.
“A person 21 years of age or older is permitted to possess and consume marijuana at retail. A consumer of marijuana may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 1/8 ounce of marijuana concentrate. Marijuana may not be legally purchased only from state-licensed retail marijuana stores,” the law states.
The problem – and it’s a big problem – is that it’s not legal to smoke marijuana anywhere in Las Vegas except in a private residence. No hotel allows guests to smoke marijuana, and there are no legal smoking lounges.
This drove consumption on the Strip, in parking lots and just about everywhere outside of town. The police aren’t going to arrest you for lighting, but having legal pot without a legal place to smoke it isn’t ideal.
This will change in the coming year.
Las Vegas, and more broadly the State of Nevada, plans to create lounges for legal cannabis consumption. These would operate much like bars, except that they will not be allowed to sell alcohol. Lounges will be a place where tourists (and residents) can legally smoke cannabis products.
There will be two types of consumer fairs. First, there are those who will be associated with existing clinics. Planet 13 (PLNHF) Las Vegas’ largest cannabis retailer, has actually chosen to give up its liquor license to open a marijuana smoking lounge.
In addition to dispensary-associated lounges, Nevada also plans to issue 20 licenses for stand-alone cannabis consumer lounges, according to the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board.
These salons will begin to open in the new year. Planet 13 is about a mile from the Strip. Federal law prohibits casino operators from adding lounges, but Las Vegas Strip drinking lounges could occur in locations far enough away from casinos.
MSG Sphere, a huge new casino coming soon
In addition to adding consumer lounges, Las Vegas will also host an unlikely late 2023 opening. Fontainebleau Las Vegas will complete a nearly 20-year odyssey when it opens late this year, continuing the revitalization of the north end from the Las Vegas Strip.
The project, which had been left for dead several times over the past two decades, recently secured a $2.2 billion loan to ensure its completion.
When completed, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will cover 25 acres and nine million square feet directly adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center. It will include approximately 3,700 luxury hotel rooms, 550,000 square feet of customizable convention and meeting space, and a “world-class” collection of gaming, dining, retail, lifestyle life, health and well-being, according to its owners.
In addition to Fontainebleau, the Las Vegas Strip will also host the MSG (MSGE) – Get a free report Sphere, a $2.2 billion concert/entertainment venue under construction near the Venetian. The Sphere, which will open in the second half of 2023 and U2 are set to play a residency there.
When complete, the venue will be a 17,500-seat performance hall that will feature the world’s highest resolution LED screen inside a 366-foot-tall steel sphere that will also feature more than 160,000 speakers. It will be used for bespoke immersive attractions, live shows, sports, games and corporate events.