Last year was the first year that the World Series of Poker was held on the Las Vegas Strip, jointly hosted by Paris and Horseshoe (then Bally’s). For more than a decade and a half, the off-Strip Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino was the annual home of the world’s most prestigious poker festival. That former home looks like it’s about to get a major facelift.
Last week, Dreamscape Companies, the owner of the Rio, announced that it has raised $850 million to launch a real estate investment trust (REIT) that will own casino, entertainment, and hospitality properties. Dreamscape founder and CEO Eric Birnbaum said that some of that money will go toward a “multi-phase renovation” of the Rio.
I enjoyed the Rio when I covered the WSOP in 2005 and 2006, though I didn’t necessarily find it to be anything special. I also didn’t live there, so I couldn’t speak to what the hotel experience was like. I did spend most of my time in the convention center, as that’s where the WSOP was held, but the casino was totally fine. My favorite thing to do when I took a break from the poker action was to grab a bite at the Chinese place (basically a mall food court restaurant, but better) and then sit at the sportsbook at eat while watching baseball.
From what I have heard, however, the Rio has gone downhill and really needs some work. The WSOP moved more for space and because Dreamscape is going to take over Rio operations from Caesars this year, but it probably didn’t help that the property needs some TLC.
Dreamscape acquired the Rio from Caesars in 2019 for $516.3 million. Caesars has continued to operate the Rio, paying Dreamscape $45 million in rent per year. It is unknown how much Dreamscape plans to spend on the property or exactly what work it plans to do. In a press release, the company just gave the generic description: “….reimagine the two-tower structure, restoring it into a premiere resort and casino experience with modernized amenities and an array of offerings that speak to today’s gaming and hospitality consumer.”
The Rio could be in store for another sizeable change in the next few years: a baseball stadium. At this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion that the MLB’s Oakland A’s will move to Las Vegas, as the team’s stadium is the worst in the majors and the A’s have been unable to agree to a deal with the city for a new one.
Recent reports have linked the Rio to the A’s and Dreamscape confirmed this with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday, saying that the company “has been engaged in a dialogue about a portion of the excess land at the Rio as a potential MLB ballpark for the past several years.”