Rio Hotel & Casino sold off for $516.3 million; WSOP’s future uncertain after 2020

In a business deal which had been rumoured for weeks, the Rio Hotel & Casino has been sold for $516.3 million. The property was sold to real-estate company Imperial Companies, which is based in New York. Initial reports confirm that the WSOP which has been based at the Rio for fifteen years, will run at the casino as planned in 2020. Beyond that however, nobody can say for sure where the WSOP might end up.

The $516.3 million sale

1Rio Hotel and Casino new tower
The Rio sold for $516.3 million

Caesars Rewards customer loyalty program will be unaffected for the time being, just like the WSOP and it is plausible that the lease to Caesars could in fact, last for more than two years.

Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that there is a clause in the sale which allows the lease to be extended, but this is by no means a certainty.

The deal was announced just a few months after Eldorado Resorts Inc acquired Caesars in a $17 billion merger back in June, with the CEO of Eldorado openly admitting that some Caesars properties could be sold.

Speaking about the announcement of the Rio’s sale, CEO of Caesars Entertainment Tony Rodio said, “This deal allows Caesars Entertainment to focus our resources on strengthening our attractive portfolio of recently renovated Strip properties and is expected to result in incremental cash flow at those properties”.

WSOP confirmed for the Rio in 2020

The deal struck between the two parties gives ownership of the property to Imperial Companies, but not the rights to the WSOP. Caesars continues to hold those rights and the Rio will be leased back to them for the next two years at a price of $45 million per year. This means that nothing has changed for the time being, with Caesars still running the Rio and WSOP. It does raise questions about what happens after the two-year lease expires, however.

It is entirely possible that in the summer of 2021 or 2022, the WSOP’s future, and location will be much more uncertain.

WSOP at the Rio

Future impact for the WSOP

With Caesars still holding the rights to the WSOP, it seems unlikely the festival itself or the player experience will change anytime soon. Crucially, there are no reports of any plans to sell the WSOP rights. This means that even if the location does change, players shouldn’t expect any substantial changes to the series beyond the usual annual tweaks.

The Rio has had a good run of hosting the WSOP, but the torch must eventually be passed to another property.

Binion’s Horseshoe hosted the series from its beginnings in 1970 until the Rio took over in 2005. Some players may even welcome a change of location, with the Rio not always being to everyone’s tastes. If the WSOP moves location in two years, it will not be the end of the WSOP, simply the start of another chapter. This fresh start could be exactly what the series needs, given how much it has changed during its time at the Rio.

Article by Craig Bradshaw