Months after rumors led many to believe that the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas would be sold, the property now has a new owner. Caesars Entertainment, one of the largest gambling operators in the world, has sold the iconic Vegas casino for $ 516.3 million.
Caesars announced the closing of the deal in a press release on Monday. The buyer, a company that owns the New York real estate firm Imperial Companies, will continue to lease the property to Caesars for a minimum of two years.
This means that Rio's current employees will continue to work as if nothing has changed. They will remain employees of Caesars Entertainment, at least for now. When the lease expires, no one knows what will happen to the property and current employees.
What's happening with the World Series of Poker?
When Caesars acquired Harrah's Entertainment ten years ago, the casino giant took ownership of the World Series of Poker, the biggest annual poker extravaganza that takes place in Las Vegas every summer.
The WSOP has called Rio home since moving from Binion's in 2005. Many poker players have long asked Caesars to take the series elsewhere. Some say the hotel is dated and in need of a major renovation which Caesars was not willing to do.
But despite poker players' wishes, the WSOP is not moving, at least not yet. As Caesars will continue to operate Rio on a leasehold basis, they will be leaving the WSOP for another year. And according to Caesars Entertainment's vice president of corporate communications, Seth Palansky, there is a good chance he will stay in Rio in 2021.
What will happen to the WSOP after 2021?
Assuming Caesars holds the WSOP in Rio in 2021, it's unclear what will happen to the series in the years to come. However, it seems unlikely that the WSOP will remain in Rio after 2021.
There is little, if any, chance that the World Series of Poker will ever leave Las Vegas. And it's just as unlikely Caesars would ever sell the show, considering it's a cash cow.
This means Caesars will have to find a new home for the annual poker extravaganza. One rumor is that it will move to the new Caesars convention center, which will be located on the Strip in the Linq entertainment district.
The building is certainly large enough to house the series, which attracts thousands of players and fans every day in summer. But it could cause a logistics nightmare on the Strip with parking, foot traffic and traffic problems.
The Las Vegas Strip is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Thousands of people already visit the Strip every day. Moving the WSOP to the Strip may cause some problems.
Currently, it seems there are no other viable options for the WSOP in Las Vegas. But that could all change in a few years if Caesars opens a new facility elsewhere.
What's next for Rio?
Rio is more than just home to the World Series of Poker. There are also many restaurants, table games, slot machines, a swimming pool, sports betting and thousands of hotel rooms. Each room at the Rio Hotel is a suite, which is one of the main selling points of the property for tourists.
But it cannot be denied that the old mansion is in need of renovation, according to many members of the poker community. The question is, will the new owners potentially invest $ 1 billion in fully renovating the hotel?
If not, we would be surprised if the building had not been finally demolished and the property used for other purposes. A few months ago, rumors started circulating that Rio would be demolished and then a Major League Baseball stadium would be built on the site. But that seems unlikely given MLB has no plans for an expansion team.