Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will replace the Hard Rock Hotel after a complete renovation of the property. (Courtesy Virgin Hotels Las Vegas)

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment will operate gaming when the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas reopens as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in 2020 after an eight-month renovation.

Virgin Hotels, founded by entrepreneur Richard Branson in 2010,  announced last year that it had bought the famed rock ‘n’ roll-themed hotel, which sits adjacent to the storied Vegas Strip. Branson said at the time that his vision is to reconceptualize and revitalize the sprawling 5-acre property by upgrading the interior and the exterior, including the famous Hard Rock pool, home of the infamous Rehab pool parties.

“MGE has a multiyear agreement to operate the 60,000-square-foot gaming space,” said Tom Cantone, senior vice president of sports and entertainment for the company. “The Mohegan Tribe will be the first Native American Tribe to operate on the Las Vegas Strip. We have been working with our partners, JC Hospitality and Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, for several months to bring this partnership to fruition.”

Cantone is happy to see MGE plant a flag in the giant gaming town.

“Las Vegas has always been a consideration,” he said. “Alignment with great strategic partners like Virgin Hotels and Hilton creates the optimal opportunity for MGE to enter the Las Vegas market.” Hilton is partnering with JC Hospitality on the project.

It’s a multiyear deal pending regulatory approval by the Nevada Gaming Commission. Cantone does not foresee any issues. “MGE is currently licensed in numerous domestic and international jurisdictions,” he said. “We have not, and do not expect, any regulatory issues in Nevada.”

The partners are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the renovation, Cantone said.

Work will include a refreshed gaming floor; renovated rooms; a remodel of the 130,000 square feet of convention, exhibit and meeting space; and a total overhaul of the pool complex, which will be rebranded as Breathe Pool Lounge.

Also announced was an agreement with AEG Presents to continue programming The Joint, the hotel’s 4,000-capacity live event space. AEG Presents has been operating the room for the last 12 years.

“AEG further expands on our commitment to partner with best-in-class operators for the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas transformation,” said Shawn Trell, executive vice president, chief operating officer and general counsel of AEG Presents in a statement. “We are excited to be working with the JC Hospitality team on this project and to what is most assuredly a bright and exciting future at The Joint.”

New renovations to The Joint will include a redesigned second floor that will expand the VIP experience by remodeling the luxury suites and adding more luxury seating options to create a high-energy lounge environment.

The Joint opened in 1995. Acts that have played the room include Nine Inch Nails, Imagine Dragons, Paul McCartney, The Killers and Drake. Residencies at The Joint have included Carlos Santana, Tiësto, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, Kiss, Mötley Crüe, Journey and more.

The reinvention of the hotel and casino resort will also bring new food and beverage options.

The Hard Rock will close Feb. 2 after the Super Bowl. It’s anticipated that the venue will reopen at the end of 2020.

This will be the ninth property to join MGE’s portfolio, with a new 5,000-seat venue opening soon in Fallsview, Ontario, and a property in South Korea about to break ground, kicking off MGE’s international expansion plans.

“MGE is currently in the midst of an exciting chapter of growth,” Cantone said.