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Report: Caesars to Sell Rio Hotel, WSOP Relocation in 2020?

Rio All-Suites Hotel

Will the 50th World Series of Poker be the swan song for poker’s biggest festival at the Rio All-Suites Hotel in Las Vegas?

It’s looking more and more likely after a new report claims the hotel is on the verge of being sold and demolished in the near future.

Las Vegas insider Las Vegas Locally first reported the potential sale late last night on Twitter. The account cited an unnamed source and targeted Virgin Trains, the company behind the California-to-Vegas high-speed rail project, as the potential buyer.

The report has not been officially confirmed but Caesars Entertainment has already stepped in to reconfirm the 2019 WSOP will still take place at the Rio this summer as usual.

The WSOP has taken place exclusively at the Rio for the last 12 years, starting way back in 2006. The 2019 World Series of Poker is set to take place at the Rio from May 28 through July 16 with over 80 different poker events on tap.

WSOP Moves to Caesars Convention Center in 2020?

If the Rio is actually sold, then the World Series of Poker will have to be moved to a new location for the first time in a decade. Fortunately, Caesars may have just the place in mind.

Caesars broke ground on a new 550,000-square-foot convention center this summer with completion set for sometime in 2020.

The new convention center is across the street from Caesars Palace and would give players better access to the strip. The downside may be more traffic for players who actually live in Vegas.

The WSOP would be a flagship property for the new convention center and would help brand the site as one of the premier business spaces in Las Vegas.

Changing Needs of WSOP

To say the WSOP outgrew its original venue would be an understatement. The very first WSOP took place at Binion’s Horseshoe in 1970 and only attracted seven players.

As a contrast, the 2018 WSOP Main Event attracted 7,874 entrants with John Cynn eventually winning $8.8 million.

The Binion’s family sold the WSOP brand to Caesars Entertainment in 2004 and moved the iconic poker series to the Rio Hotel for 2005. The final table of the 2005 WSOP still took place at Binion’s Horseshoe but starting in 2006 every event of the WSOP has taken place at the Rio.

The modern-day WSOP generally includes over 80 different bracelet events with smaller daily tournaments, cash games and more.

The annual poker festival attracts tens of thousands of players with hundreds of millions in prizes awarded to players. A WSOP that takes place closer to the strip could potentially attract even more players.

Rio to be Demolished After WSOP?

The new report claims that once the Rio sale goes through, the property will be demolished “soon.”

It’s unclear what that means in this case because the property obviously cannot be demolished before the WSOP, which runs all the way to July 16.

That means it’s possible the Rio will be demolished in late summer or early fall of 2019.

The Rio was only built in 1990 so demolishing the building at this point in its life is somewhat unusual. Fellow Las Vegas casino the New Frontier was originally built in 1942 but wasn’t demolished until 2007.

It’s not exactly unprecedented, however, as the main tower of the Stardust casino was built in 1991 but demolished in 2007, which was a short lifespan even for Las Vegas casinos.

The Rio land is particularly valuable because it’s just off the strip and would be a potential location for a sports stadium. It’s been heavily rumored that potential buyers were considering an MLB ballpark for the land.

Caesars Entertainment Also on the Block?

It’s not just the Rio that might be sold within the year.

The parent company of the WSOP, Caesars Entertainment, is allegedly courting potential new owners. Caesars is valued at $5.6 billion but carries a staggering $18 million in debt.

Billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who owns the Golden Nugget and the Houston Rockets, is allegedly considering a bid in partnership with El Dorado Resorts. The Caesars board of directors hasn’t made a decision to sell the company but is allegedly open to the prospect of a sale.

It’s unclear what effect a sale might have on the WSOP but the massive poker series has been a consistent earner for Caesars Entertainment. The iconic poker series attracts tens of thousands of hotel guests and poker players every year.