For a good part of the past decade, there has been the occasional murmur that Caesars was looking to sell the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, the home of the World Series of Poker. Late last week, the rumors kicked up again, this time via the Las Vegas happenings blog, VitalVegas.com.
That was followed up with, “You know those persistent rumors of Rio sale? Next level chatter happening, Caesars seriously shopping this fixer-upper.”
The convention center referenced is the Caesars Forum, a $375 million conference center which will be located in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, behind the LINQ. It will be connected to Harrah’s and Flamingo via walkways. Ground was broken on the 550,000 square foot facility three weeks ago; the Forum is scheduled to open in 2020.
Naturally, with the sale of the Rio being a topic that has popped up several times over the years, many are skeptical of Vital Vegas’ brief tweets. On Friday, Roeben reminded people, though, that Vital Vegas has been correct on many similar transactions in the past:
Please don't make us recite list of…oh, all right:
Broke sale of Riviera.
Broke sale of SLS.
Broke sale of Hard Rock.
Broke sale of Las Vegas Club.
Broke sale of Fontainebleau.
Broke sale of Alon site.
Rio rumor is solid. Get ready to be a believer. ") https://t.co/CHaXp3vxd6
— Vital Vegas (@VitalVegas) August 3, 2018
Caesars, for its part, has denied the rumor, telling poker news site USPoker, “We have had no discussions to move the WSOP. We consider the Rio its home for the foreseeable future.”
Big Series, Big Building
The World Series of Poker has been held at the Rio since 2005, which by happy coincidence was my first year in the poker industry and my first year covering the WSOP live. Caesars (then Harrah’s) had purchases the long-time home of the WSOP, Binion’s Horseshoe, the previous year; along with that purchase came the rights to the WSOP.
2003 was the year Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event and from there, the Series – and poker in general – exploded in popularity. The move to the Rio in 2005 was made largely because the sudden growth in attendance required a larger venue. It is also possible (though this is just my speculation) that the Rio was chosen over other Caesars properties in order to enhance the off-strip casino’s stature in Las Vegas.
The first year that the WSOP was held at the Rio, the final three tables of the Main Event were still contested at Binions as a nod to the World Series’ history, but that was the last year for the WSOP at Binions in any form. In 2006, the entire WSOP took place at the Rio; this was also the year of the largest Main Event in Series history, the last WSOP before the UIGEA was passed in the United States.
I will admit that I haven’t covered the WSOP live since 2006, as once my first child was born, I didn’t want to spend two months or so away from home. But I very much enjoyed my time at the Rio and though there have been bumps in the road, it has served as an excellent host for the WSOP. I wouldn’t expect to hear any more about the Rio sale rumor in the near future, but it will be interesting to see if it has any legs as time marches on.