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Caesars Entertainment Sells Rio Hotel But WSOP to Stay for 2020 Series

Rio All Suites Hotel (left)

It turns out the World Series of Poker won’t be going anywhere until at least 2021.

After years of speculation, news broke earlier this week that Caesars Entertainment has finally offloaded the Rio All-Suite Hotel, home of the WSOP, to a New York-based development group for $515.3 million.

In a surprising turn of events, the WSOP will remain on the property for at least one more year thanks to a lease agreement with the buyer. There’s even a chance the series remains on property until 2022.

It’s long been rumored that Caesars Entertainment, owner of the WSOP, was looking to offload the Rio and earlier this year there were rumors that the 2019 WSOP would be the last one at the aging property and the long-running series would move to the massive Caesars Forum Convention Center that is currently being built just off the Strip.

It appears those rumors were incorrect, at least for the time being, and the Rio will continue to be the home of the WSOP. The WSOP brand will remain the exclusive property of Caesars Entertainment.

WSOP Shuts Down Talk of Potential Move

The WSOP announced that it was staying put at the Rio All-Suite Hotel before news of the sales broke.

WSOP corporate communications vice-president Seth Palensky told Card Player Magazine that the WSOP would definitely return to the Rio in 2020, with a good chance the series returns in 2021 as well.

Palensky also shot down the rumors of the WSOP moving to Caesars Forum, stating that the WSOP is hardly the most lucrative tenant for a brand-new convention center.

Hosting the WSOP is a tall order for any convention center because it takes a massive amount of space, lasts for 60-plus days and creates a considerable amount of congestion thanks to the influx of thousands upon thousands of poker players.

Palensky went on to say that for the time being, the Rio is an ideal location for the WSOP thanks to the infrastructure that’s already in place as well as its off-strip location and relatively easy parking.

There are downsides to the Rio as well, however. Plenty of poker players have complained about the limited dining options and amenities over the years. It’s also not connected to any other casinos, unlike the properties on the Strip, so there simply aren’t as many walkable options.

Regardless, players can officially start booking their trips for the 2020 WSOP, which will once again take place at the Rio Hotel.

Rio Sale Unrelated to Eldorado Merger

The sale of the Rio is relatively small peanuts to what’s been going on with Caesars Entertainment over the last few months.

This summer, Caesars Entertainment agreed to a $17.3-billion cash-and-stock deal to merge with Eldorado Resorts. The resulting company will be called simply Caesars. The merger is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

The new Caesars will be the biggest casino operator in the United States with 70-plus properties spread across numerous states.

It’s been a long time coming for Caesars Entertainment, which has been floundering since the early 2010s. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who owns almost 100 million shares of Caesars Entertainment, urged the board of directors to consider selling the company.

Icahn lauded the merger with Eldorado and said that he believes the synergies between the two companies will help elevate the newly formed company to new heights.

Both Caesars and Eldorado have been offloading a number of properties to avoid anti-competition litigation. Apparently the Rio sale was unrelated to the merger with Eldorado, however, and had been in the works for many years.