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Gaming Commission Approves MGM-Mandalay Merger

LAS VEGAS (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — MGM Mirage
announced that the Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously approved the proposed merger between MGM Mirage and Mandalay Resort Group on February 24th.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and satisfaction of regulatory requirements in Illinois and Michigan. MGM Mirage anticipates the transaction will be completed in the first quarter of 2005.

"We are very pleased with the Commission's unanimous approval and we are working diligently to complete the remaining steps of the merger prior to the end of March," said Terry Lanni, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MGM Mirage.

MGM Mirage Inc. still needs Nevada and other state gambling regulators to approve the blockbuster deal.

Nevada gambling regulators are scheduled to consider the matter next week.

In June, MGM Mirage agreed to purchase Mandalay for $4.8 billion in cash, $2.5 billion in debt and $600 million convertible debentures. The company has secured financing for the merger.

Combining the Las Vegas-based companies will give MGM Mirage revenues of about $6.5 billion and control of 28 properties in Nevada, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan and Mississippi, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The companies would claim half of the 74,424 hotel rooms and about 40 percent of the slot machines on the Strip. Those numbers will slide slightly when Wynn Resorts Ltd.'s 2,700-room Wynn Las Vegas and the 949-room tower at Caesars Palace open later this year.

In addition to 70,000 employees, MGM Mirage would have the fifth largest convention center in the United States, at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

Many of the world's most famous casinos, The Mirage, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Circus Circus, Luxor and Mandalay Bay would fall under the new MGM Mirage corporate umbrella.

MGM Mirage also will own more than 150 acres of undeveloped land on the Strip, some of the most valuable real estate in the world. The company intends to build a 4,000-room megaresort and sprawling urban development in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, a $4 billion project that would alter the landscape of the city's most important commercial center.

MGM Mirage officials call the ambitious plan "Project CityCenter," and believe it will help transform Las Vegas into a sophisticated, multidimensional city that rivals other major metropolitan areas.

In 2007, it expects to open a hotel-casino in the Chinese enclave of Macau, and plans to open properties in the United Kingdom once gambling laws are loosened there.

MGM Mirage must sell one of two Detroit casinos. It already owns the MGM Grand, and Mandalay owns a majority stake in MotorCity Casino. Michigan law requires the city's casinos be owned separately.

Caesars Entertainment Inc. and Harrah's Entertainment Inc. are waiting for the FTC to sign off on their proposed merger, which would create the biggest gambling company in the world in terms of revenues. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers