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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson
 

Economic Impact: Mirage to Take Big Hit

8 October 2003

LAS VEGAS -- The closing of one of the Strip's biggest shows after Friday's tiger mauling of Siegfried & Roy star Roy Horn is the second big hit absorbed by The Mirage this year.

After The Mirage's parent company, MGM Mirage, was stung with a $5 million fine and harsh criticism from state gaming regulators after it failed to file thousands of federal anti-money laundering forms, Horn's injuries and the indefinite closing of the popular Strip magic show planted a second solid fiscal haymaker on the nearly 14-year-old Strip megaresort, experts said.

Siegfried & Roy's 13 1/2-year sellout streak at The Mirage is testament to the illusionists' continuing popularity as well as their financial contribution to the property.

The duo and their cast of 267 performed six shows weekly before capacity crowds of 1,503 paying an average of $110 each, including tax. They performed about 45 weeks per year, meaning Siegfried & Roy generated about $44.6 million in annual pretax ticket revenue.

But with Horn still in critical condition Monday, MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said it is inappropriate to talk about the financial fallout from the show's closure.

"With all respect, we don't view this tragedy as a financial story," Feldman said. "We view it as a personal story, of Roy and his struggles and of the cast and the challenges they face."

Feldman also refused to speculate on the property's plans to replace the show.

But several Wall Street analysts said Monday the loss of the show will hit The Mirage hard.

"(Closing Siegfried & Roy) will have an impact on entertainment revenue, food and beverage revenue and gaming revenue," Deutsche Banc casino debt analyst Andrew Zarnett said. "We've seen from the Celine Dion show, when you're able to generate 4,000 incremental guests a night, you pump up revenue from food and beverage and from gaming. There has to be a short-term impact."

Zarnett predicted the normally slow holiday season will soften the blow.

"They're normally off from the end of November to the end of Christmas, so it won't be that big an impact in the fourth quarter, but it'll have an impact."

Lehman Brothers casino analyst Joyce Minor estimated that MGM Mirage gets less than half the revenue from Siegfried & Roy ticket sales.

Deutsche Banc casino equity analyst Marc Falcone agreed the lost ticket revenue isn't as significant as the casino, retail, food and beverage revenue that would have accompanied showgoers.

Falcone predicted the show's closing could cut the company's annual profit by about 10 cents per share.

MGM Mirage shares closed down almost 1 percent Monday, down 35 cents to $36.48.

Still, The Mirage's lost revenues won't seriously hurt the financial health of the property or its parent, one informed source said.

"The Secret Garden (poolside animal attraction), the white tiger exhibit, and the gift shops will all remain open," one source said. "It's not like The Mirage is losing all Siegfried & Roy-related revenue."

The parent company's financial position is even less threatened, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"This is a company with $4 1/2 billion in revenue, and Siegfried & Roy is a show that produces about $45 million in ticket revenue," the source explained.

The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.