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The future of a casino empire has less to do with owning mega-resorts and more with operations and innovation around things like internet gaming. MGM Resorts continues its streak of sale-leaseback deals with Blackstone to maintain its Las Vegas presence but shed real estate ownership.

MGM Resorts will buy the remaining 50% stake in its joint venture on the Las Vegas Strip from a unit of investment firm Dubai World for $2.12 billion, the U.S. casino operator said on Thursday.

The venture, CityCenter Holdings, is an urban complex comprising Aria Resort and Casino and Vdara Hotel and Spa.

After buying it from Infinity World Development Corp, MGM said it will sell the two properties to private equity firm Blackstone for $3.89 billion in cash.

The deal is part of MGM’s ‘asset light’ strategy to generate cash by selling real estate and use it for growth avenues such as sports betting and casino development in Japan.

“We expect to continue executing on our asset-light strategy and utilizing the proceeds from our real estate transactions to…secure new growth opportunities,” MGM Resorts Chief Executive Bill Hornbuckle said.

Blackstone will lease the Aria and Vdara properties to MGM for an initial annual rent of $215 million, the company said. The deals are expected to close in the third quarter.

MGM’s purchase price for CityCenter values the complex at about $5.8 billion, including net debt of $1.5 billion.

MGM shares were up 2.7% after having gained about 35% up to Wednesday’s close this year.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Arun Koyyur)

This article was from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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Tags: blackstone, las vegas, mgm resorts

Photo credit: The CityCenter complex in Las Vegas is valued at $5.8 billion, per the transactions involved in the sale-leaseback. Jim G / Wikimedia

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