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‘I came to win’: $1.6M up for grabs as Mirage prepares to close on Strip

Updated July 10, 2024 - 6:03 pm

The Mirage hotel-casino is getting some serious bang for its buck as the iconic Strip property inches closer to shutting its doors next week.

The casino’s six-day, $1.6 million progressive cash giveaway is attracting thousands of last-minute revelers hoping to walk away with their share of guaranteed prize money. On Wednesday afternoon, the second day of the promotion, nearly every available slot machine bank was occupied as anxious onlookers waited for their chance.

With more than $200,000 in cash winnings up for grabs, almost everyone in sight is vying for their piece of the pie.

But as the Mirage prepares to close on July 17, the impending shutdown is having a ripple effect on the promotion. More than half the machines on the casino floor are turned off.

The scarcity of available machines is succeeding in creating demand for the $1.2 million in combined slot progressive cash but it is also causing some angst among guests.

Krissy Carter is a Las Vegas native who now lives in Texas. She came to the Mirage on Wednesday hoping for a chance to head home with some cash.

“But it’s been such a frustrating experience,” she said while sitting at a closed slot bank and intently watching a nearby machine. She said she’s been waiting to play a machine for almost two hours.

Carter motioned to the active slot machine a few feet away and said the woman currently there has been sitting for quite some time but hasn’t actually gambled. Carter said she informed security and the woman simply opened the game rules and began scrolling through to make it appear she was using the machine.

“Everyone has a right to play,” Carter said. “But it’s frustrating when people only have like $1 in a machine and they’re not really playing.”

Not everyone was as fed up with the process as Carter was.

Matt Moss and Mandy Gonzalez, both locals, were patiently sitting at a two-seater machine that was dark. They were completely unbothered by the seemingly chaotic situation around them. In fact, they both found some humor in the long line of people at the Unity card rewards desk who still needed to sign up for a player’s card in order to be eligible to win.

“They don’t have a shot,” Moss said with a chuckle.

Gonzalez said she thought the promotion should have catered more to existing Unity card holders, possibly limiting who could play based on tier status. If nothing else, she felt it would have reduced the frustration among patrons and resulted in a more organized cash giveaway.

Since he’s more of a self-described table games player, Moss was more interested in the two-day drawing on Friday and Saturday night. The Mirage is giving away $400,000 in progressive table game cash over the course of two days.

“We’ll see if I come back,” he said. “I’m still kind of up in the air about that.”

Nate Rose is a bonafide table games player. The New York native who now lives in Dubai is in town for the World Series of Poker. He dropped by the Mirage because, as he put it, “you got to be in it to win it.”

Rose said he does not typically play slots because the odds are not in the players’ favor. But he came to the Mirage on Wednesday with the mindset that he was going to leave with some cash, as evident by his money bag slung around his shoulder.

“I came to win,” Rose said with a big smile. “If you’re trying to win money, you can’t have a negative attitude. You have to expect to win. I certainly expect to walk out with some stacks.”

The Mirage is closing next week after 34 years on the Las Vegas Strip.

Hard Rock International, the property’s new owners, are embarking on a multi-year construction project that will transform the Mirage into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas and Guitar Hotel Las Vegas. The project is expected to be completed by 2027.

Contact David Danzis at ddanzis@reviewjournal.com.