Caesars Entertainment Might Sell Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino

Rio Casino For Sale

Despite midling reviews on TripAdvisor, the Rio continues to host the WSOP each year, as well as many conventions.

Caesars Entertainment has placed the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on sale, according to an unnamed inside source. If the Rio sells, then the 2019 World Series of Poker will be held at a different venue for the first time since 2004.

Vital Vegas, a prominent Las Vegas blog owned by Scott Roeben, posted recently that Caesars wants to sale the Rio. Roeben posted, “Previously shared Rio sale rumor looks like the real deal. Caesars highly motivated to cut her loose, insider confirms three viable entities circling.”

According to the blogger, at least 3 casino companies are interested in buying the casino and hotel.

The Rio opened in 1990 as an off-the-Strip casino for local gamblers and tourists. In 1998, Harrah’s Entertainment bought the casino for $888 million. When Caesars and Harrah’s merged in 2005, the Rio became one of the combined company’s properties. By the time Harrah’s renamed itself Caesars Entertainment in 2009, the Rio was one of the company’s most famous casino properties.

The reason is the merged company made the Rio the site of the World Series of Poker in 2005. The Rio All-Suite Hotel was seen every year on ESPN’s broadcasts of the World Series of Poker, though the WSOP Main Event remained at Binion’s Horseshoe that first summer of 2005.

The Rio’s Slow Decline

Now nearly 30 years into its existence, the Rio is considered an aging property. In an age of integrated resort-casinos like the soon-to-be Resorts World Las Vegas, the Rio’s setting is somewhat quaint.

When Steve Wynn opened the Mirage in 1989, that opening is considered to have ushered in the corporate age of the Las Vegas mega-resort. The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino was developed before the Mirage opened, so it was a bit outdated by the time it opened.

Low Online Hotel Reviews

The resort has not undergone a renovation in over a decade. It has a 3.5 out of 5 rating on Trip Advisor with over 19,000 reviews — enough to rank it as the #118 hotel in the Las Vegas area. One TripAdvisor review noted, “Chipped furniture, peeling paint, paper-thin walls. Staff sprayed Febreze, nothing else.”

Rooms at the Rio sell for as low as $34-a-night, sometimes as low as $26-a-night.

Part of the problem has been Caesars Entertainment’s financial struggles. When Apollo Global Capital and other holding companies bought Caesars in a leveraged buyout in January 2007, it left the company with over $30 billion in debt.

Caesars Bankruptcy Battle

Over the next 8 years, Caesars was able to trim the debt down to $23 billion, but it was too much for the company to sustain. In January 2015, the company’s operations division – The Caesars Entertainment Operations Division (CEOC) — filed for bankruptcy.

The previous summer, Caesars’ then-CEO Gary Loveman loaded CEOC with $18 billion of the debt and divested it of a dozen properties. When CEOC filed for bankruptcy, the junion shareholders filed lawsuits to stop the reorganization plan. That led to a protracted 32-month court battle which required Caesars to eventually pay another $5 billion to disgruntled investors.

Under the circumstances, Caesars Entertainment decided not to invest in renovations for properties like the Rio. Now that the company is no longer under the cloud of a bankruptcy battle, it can afford to be ambitious. But new CEO Mark Frissora also wants to be strategic, so Caesars may well want to sell older properties that need expansion or renovation.

Rio’s Sale Rumored for Years

Rumors have swirled in the past few years that Caesars Entertainment would sell the Rio and move the World Series of Poker. For that reason, gaming observers challenged Scott Roeben on his Twitter feed about his reporting.

The owner of Vital Vegas defended his track record, posting, “Please don’t make us recite a 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.”