Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino

Vital Vegas Blog Reiterates Rio Sale Rumor

For years, there have been rumors that Caesars Entertainment was interesting in selling the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, situated about a mile west of the Las Vegas Strip. The rumors come and go without much to-do, but they have bubbled up again, with the same source insisting twice this month that the latest whispers are the “real deal.” Before we proceed, let me emphasize that while this is all quite fascinating, these are still just rumors to this point.

Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino

The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino has hosted the WSOP since 2005.

Eyebrows Raised

At the beginning of August, Vital Vegas, a blog that gives the rundown of everything that is happening in Las Vegas, from business deals to the erection of signs to the latest food at casinos, tweeted simply, “WSOP out at Rio when new Caesars convention center opens.”

Shortly thereafter came another tweet, “You know those persistent rumors of Rio sale? Next level chatter happening, Caesars seriously shopping this fixer-upper.”

Of course, as I mentioned at the outset, Rio sale rumors have cropped up several times over the past decade or so, and obviously the property has never been sold. There has never even been any sort of official confirmation that it was even a possibility. Thus, many doubted Vital Vegas’ assertion, and for good reason, really.

Scott Roeben, the man behind Vital Vegas, responded to the doubters, letting everybody know that he has broken the news of a string of property sales previously. Take note:

That’s a solid track record. That doesn’t mean he is right in this case, but I am willing to give him at least some of the benefit of the doubt.

Caesars, as one might expect when it isn’t multiple major media outlets breaking the possible news (or even when it is), denied everything, telling USPoker, ““We have had no discussions to move the WSOP. We consider the Rio its home for the foreseeable future.”

Rumor Gets Louder

On Monday, Roeben reaffirmed what he has been hearing, tweeting, “Previously shared Rio sale rumor looks like the real deal. Caesars highly motivated to cut her loose, insider confirms three viable entities circling. Aftermath of sale will include move of WSOP to Caesars Forum convention center, despite denials.”

In the discussion thread that followed, he said that one of his sources said a buyer is only interested in the land and would thus demolish the Rio complex. Renovation is another possibility, depending on the buyer.

Again, we stress that this is just a rumor. There were rumblings ten years ago that Caesars was looking to sell the Rio for upwards of a billion dollars. In about 2012, there were what seemed to be very solid leads from reliable media sources that a sale was imminent, but guess what, Caesars still owns the Rio and the World Series of Poker just completed its 19th year there.

The Caesars Forum that Roeben mentions in his latest tweet is a gigantic 550,000-square-foot convention center which will be located behind the LINQ on the east side of the Strip. It is positioned right about in the center of the Strip action and will be connected to both Harrah’s and the Flamingo via walkways. Ground broke on the $375 million facility in July and it is expected to be completed in 2020.

It would in many ways be a fantastic location for the WSOP. While I never had trouble getting to the Rio when I covered the WSOP live, I had a car. Most people coming in for the poker festival do not have access to cars, so unless they are staying at the Rio or perhaps the Gold Coast next door or the Palms across the street (and in Vegas, even casinos next to each other can require a healthy walk), it isn’t the most convenient location. The Caesars Forum mid-Strip would be much better.

And as we have seen over the years, the WSOP has grown so large the logistics have gotten difficult, with multiple ballrooms needed to handle all the action. The Amazon ballroom, which is the main poker room at the WSOP, is 40,000 square feet, while the Pavilion ballroom is 55,000 square feet. Compare that to the Caesars Forum, which as two ballrooms which, at 108,000 square feet, are each larger than the two at the Rio combined. There are also two 40,000 square foot ballrooms.

The biggest problem with moving the WSOP would be parking. Though many people don’t have cars, there were over 120,000 entries at this year’s Series, so naturally, a lot of people do have four-wheeled transportation. The Rio has ample parking, especially in the lot behind the convention area of the property. Parking, though not really an issue on a regular day on the Strip, could be problematic on the busiest days of the WSOP.

In the end, this article could be pointless. The rumors of a possible Rio sale could be nothing. But it’s interesting to think about and we will just have to wait to see if anything happens.

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