Harrah’s Looking to Sell the Rio?

Reports circulating that home of the WSOP is on the blocks

by , Apr 26, 2010 | 2:17 pm

Our beloved Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. is currently seeking buyers for the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, according to Bloomberg-BusinessWeek. Supposedly bids are in the $500 million range for the largest property currently in the Harrah’s portfolio, which has been the home to the World Series of Poker since 2005 … and is considered by many “a dump” on par with Circus-Circus or the Tropicana despite its super-long hallways that make for top-quality scooter races and ridiculous Phil Hellmuth main event entrances.

Seeking confirmation and insight on reports from a highly respected business publication that line up with previous rumors connected to Harrah’s recent acquisition of Planet Hollywood on the Strip, we asked (for real) a WSOP spokesman:

  • If a sale goes through as desired, what would this mean for the WSOP?
  • What would be the most likely candidates for a new venue?
  • Would the WSOP ever consider hosting its summer event at a place that
    is not a Harrah’s property?

All he would say is, “The 2010 WSOP will be at the Rio. We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

Of course.

However, as a site that traffics in exactly that — and sees plausibly another sign of the impending implosion of poker — we know where to get the real scoop on private megabucks business decisions such as these.

According to Seth Shmalansky, Fake PR Director of the WSOP, “It will be a sad day for many of us if we do manage to unload this piece-of-shit property. But business is business, and with the Reverend-Sir AlcantHang slightly curtailing his alcohol intake at the Hooker Bar it just no longer makes fiscal sense to hold on to it.”

But even Shmalansky wouldn’t comment on the rumor we are trying to start heard from a man in Texas that one of the potential buyers is the nation of PokerStarzistan, which has designs on turning the Rio into a fortress so they can go all Branch Davidian on the Feds should they decide to come after their people in any way.

9 Comments to “Harrah’s Looking to Sell the Rio?”

  1. Kevin Mathers

    Wouldn’t Caesars’ Palace or even Planet Hollywood be places to hold the 2011 WSOP?

  2. DanM

    those two seem the most likely candidates … but with so many intangibles in place and no confirmed buyers, i think it’s too early to make a quality guess on that. Surely they had to consider the issue assuming they are indeed trying to sell the Rio.

    Maybe they’ll just hold the whole thing online?

  3. Harris

    Harrah’s moved the series to the Rio because of all their properties it had the most parking, largest convention center space and easiest access to the event. I don’t know if any of the other properties can handle the size of the series as it stands now. If fact I think there are very few locations in Vegas that could handle it. The only places that come to mind are the Venetian, Mandalay Bay, LV Convention Center, and maybe the Orleans.

  4. Kevin Mathers

    On one of the Poker 2Nite episodes, Ty Stewart mentioned the possibility of doing an online tournament for a bracelet, maybe when poker.wsop.com becomes legal worldwide.

  5. bigdaddy

    Prediction alert:
    Harrah’s sells the Rio to Binion and then leases space for WSOP with cuts of Rio rfb returned to Harrah’s.

  6. UK Poker News

    It would not surprise me if Harrah’s *and* MGM sell one or more of their properties over the next year or so. From a consumer’s standpoint, the amount of homogeneity amongst the big hotels on/near the strip is really unappealing. I really miss the diversity of having many independent operators.

    The more casinos Harrah’s & MGM sell, the better it will be for the consumer in my humble opinion.

  7. JW

    So Sad…. Before Harrah’s bought the Rio it was actually considered one of the best high-end casinos in Vegas. Then Harrah’s bought it, killed all the high-end action and made the place a fuggin dump….

    All sorts of properties will likely be on the line when nearly 15 BILLION of debt comes due for Harrah’s in 2014….

  8. DanM

    i remember. when it first opened it was one of the fanciest places off the strip (1994 i believe?). it was the first time i saw a place where the smallest blackjack hand available was $15.

  9. Lin Sherman

    Harrahs has been trying to sell the Rio from the day they acquired it. This is nothing new. The rumors come and go whenever there’s a potential buyer in the wings.

    As for where the WSOP could be held if moved from the Rio, there’s plenty of space in Caesars Conference Center (http://www.harrahs.com/our-casinos/clv/groups_mtgs/facilities/).

    Someone who used to work for CP and who was in a position to know these things told me that Harrahs has always planned to move the WSOP to CP, and the only reason the WSOP is still at the Rio is because Harrahs can’t unload the dump, so they figure they might as well leave the WSOP there until they do.

    To DanM: It was one of the first, if not the first, major resorts in LV where all of the standard rooms were minisuites (i.e., fridge, microwave and usable sitting area). The smallest rooms were 600 sq ft, which is bigger than the apartment I was living in at the time. I stayed there on business many times the first couple of years it was open (c. 1991-1992). The first time I stayed there, I couldn’t believe how big my room was. That was just not heard of back then. I loved staying there.

    The problems were downstairs. The casino was noisy and poorly laid out, the table minimums were too high and the machine payouts too low for what was supposed to be a locals casino, and the restaurants were overpriced and crappy. I hated gambling there. Even back then it came across as a more expensive version of Circus Circus, what with all the live crap going on all the time above and around you.