Caesars Looking to Sell Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, According to New Round of Reports

For nearly a decade now, the Las Vegas rumor mill would, every once in a while, produce a story revolving around the potential sale of Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, which is currently owned by gaming and hospitality giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. and has been home to the World Series of Poker for more than a decade now.

A fresh round of reports about Caesars’ intention to sell the off-Strip Vegas casino emerged earlier this month. Las Vegas-based blog Vital Vegas said in a tweet early in August that an “insider” had confirmed that the casino operator had begun looking for a buyer for Rio and that it would bring the WSOP to Caesars Forum, a $375-million 550,000-square-foot convention center, it broke ground on earlier this summer and is slated to open doors in 2020 and become a premium Strip events destination.

The WSOP denied those reports shortly after. However, in a tweet from earlier this week, Vital Vegas said that their sources have informed them that the sale will happen and that three companies have expressed interest in buying Rio. Vital Vegas also pointed out that the WSOP will indeed move to Caesars Forum, despite previous denials.

The WSOP has grown tremendously over the past several years. During the 2018 edition of the world’s longest-running tournament poker series, a record number of 123,865 entries registered into a record number of 78 gold bracelet events. In other words, the series could certainly make good use of a larger venue.

People familiar with Rio’s convention facilities know that the resort features 160,000 square feet of flexible convention and meeting space. Its Amazon and Pavilion ballrooms, where WSOP events are annually taking place, occupy 40,000 square feet and 50,000 square feet of space. As for Caesars Forum, developers have said that the convention center will offer 300,000 square feet of flexible space with two 108,000-square-foot ballrooms and two 40,000-square-foot ones.

Previous Sale Reports

As mentioned earlier, reports about Rio’s sale have been popping out for years. Most notably, Caesars was reported back in 2013 to have approached online poker operator PokerStars with an offer to sell its off-Strip hotel and casino resort. PokerStars Vice President of Corporate Communications confirmed those reports when approached at the time and also revealed that the online poker room refused the offer as it was not interested in buying another land-based casino.

Many expected that PokerStars might agree to buy Rio in order to be able to obtain an online gaming license in Nevada. However, the poker operator was looking to purchase another casino at the time. Online gambling was just legalized in New Jersey and PokerStars, hoping to enter that nascent market, was among the suitors circling the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. A deal between the poker room and the the owners of the now shuttered casino resort did not take place and it was not before the spring of 2016 that PokerStars finally entered New Jersey.

In 2014, pioneer entertainment journalist Robin Leach tweeted that a “major off-Strip hotel just sold for $400 million”. While he did not name the hotel, a thread in poker forum Two Plus Two suggested that Caesars might have reached a deal to sell Rio.

Despite the multiple reports over the years, the off-Strip property is still owned by Caesars. It is yet to be seen whether the case will be different this time.

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