The most heated contest in Las Vegas isn't on the casino floor—it's over the future of MSM Mirage. In one corner, investor Carl Icahn, who wants to restructure the company via bankruptcy. In the other corner, Kirk Kerkorian, who owns 53 percent of the company. But Icahn and a private equity fund have been buying up hundreds of millions of dollars in MGM Mirage debt recently to gain influence. Filing for bankruptcy would mean Kerkorian loses his stake—valued at $900 million, down from $14.9 billion in 2007. What's really on the line, though, is ego, power, control of Nevada's largest taxpayer (with 50,000 employees) and the fate of a new $8.6 billion Vegas project.