In a conference call on Tuesday, World Series of Poker (WSOP) officials were unconcerned about a possible sale of the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. The tournament series kicks off May 28th from the off-Strip casino and runs until July 17th.
In a Business Week article on April 23rd, it was revealed that Starwood Capital Group LLC and Colony Capital LLC were among those groups bidding on the Rio, which is owned by Harrah’s Entertainment. The price tag was rumored to be around $500 million and comes just months after Harrah’s acquired Planet Hollywood, which sits on Las Vegas Boulevard. Harrah’s also owns Caesars Palace, Bally’s, Flamingo, Paris, and the Imperial Palace. The casino monolith holds the rights to the annual WSOP, which moved to the Rio from Binion’s Horseshoe in Downtown Las Vegas in 2005.
According to Business Week, the Rio sits on 89 acres and has 117,000 square feet of gaming space, the most of any Harrah’s property in Las Vegas. The massive complex includes 1,100 slot machines, 90 table games, and over 2,500 guest rooms. This year, the WSOP playing surface will encompass the Amazon Room and adjacent Rio Pavilion for 120,000 square feet of space and 377 tables.
WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart was asked on Tuesday’s conference call to address the rumors of Harrah’s selling the Rio. He responded in part, “We’re going to have a very successful tournament, the biggest we’ve ever had. We’re not going to speculate on any of those other business dealings. The company would have a similar or expanded footprint if the WSOP is held outside of the Rio, but at this point, we’re focusing on running a great tournament in 2010.” Rumors have persisted for several years that the WSOP could head to Caesars Palace, located on the Strip next to the Bellagio.
Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment and WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky followed up Stewart’s remarks by saying, “We haven’t spent one second looking at alternative venues because we don’t think there’s a need to.” Meanwhile, forums like TwoPlusTwo were abuzz about the WSOP potentially moving elsewhere. One poster explained, “I was just in Vegas and was asking around and the rumor was Caesars will host the Main Event, but that some of the other events might be at other Harrah’s properties.”
Running concurrently with the WSOP is the Bellagio Cup, which kicks off on June 25th and wraps up on July 16th. Its final table will air as part of the 2010-2011 season of the World Poker Tour (WPT). TwoPlusTwo member “Mordan” explained, “This would be just awesome if it is at Caesars. It is such a hassle to move around the city if you are playing MTTs at other places. So if you bust out of a Main, now it’s not a pain in the ass to go across the street to the Bellagio for a Cup event or across the street the other way for a Venetian event.” The third Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza of 2010 takes place from May 28th to July 15th.
Officials expect between 80,000 and 100,000 spectators to attend the 2010 WSOP. Stewart revealed what fans of the game will be able to experience in Las Vegas: “We definitely feel like this will be the best spectator experience to date. We will have interactive exhibits and attractions in the Brasilia Room. We’ll be having WSOP Academy primers and free sessions. Instead of being held for four days, everything will be programmed over six weeks.” Previously, the WSOP had featured the Gaming Life Expo prior to the start of the Main Event. However, the Expo will cease to exist in 2010.
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