Caesars Sells Rio Casino for $516m, WSOP to Remain

  • The Rio Casino is being sold to an Imperial Companies subsidiary
  • Caesars will remain the casino's operator for at least another two years
  • The sale follows Caesars' plans to sell off some of its Vegas properties
  • The WSOP event will still take place at the Rio in 2020
dusk shot of the Rio All-Suite Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas
Caesars has sold the Rio Casino for $516m, but the WSOP event will still be held there in 2020. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Real estate subsidiary buys casino

Caesars Entertainment has agreed to sell the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The buyer is a subsidiary that is under the control of Imperial Companies, a real estate investment company. The deal is worth $516.3m. 

As per the sale agreement, Caesars will still be operating the facility. The lease will be in place for at least another two years, with the annual rent cost amounting to $45m. There is also an option for the buyer to give $7m to Caesars to extend the lease agreement into a third year. 

The 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.”

Details of the sale

As part of the agreement, there will be co-ownership for the data of guests at the Rio and no curtailments for the marketing activities of Caesars. Until the lease term ends, the Rio will remain part of the Caesars Rewards program. 

The deal is expected to be fully wrapped up at some stage in the fourth quarter of 2019. It will need to first receive regulatory approval and meet other closing conditions. 

WSOP to remain

It has been confirmed that the World Series of Poker (WSOP) will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in 2020. The casino has been hosting the WSOP since the 2005 event, when it took over as host from the Binion’s Horseshoe Casino.

The WSOP takes place over the course of 62 days and needs about 200,000 square feet of convention space. According to Seth Palansky, the vice president of corporate communication for the WSOP, it takes many years of planning to relocate the series.

The WSOP has booked out the space at the Rio for a number of years. In addition to confirming that next year’s tourneys will be held inside this establishment, Palansky went on to say that

People should feel confident that the 2021 WSOP will be at the Rio as well.”

Differences over the venue

After news of the sale of the Rio broke, Palansky said it will be up to the new owner of the casino to decide if they want to honor the existing contracts or not. 

Palansky is a fan of the WSOP taking place at the Rio because of its off-Strip location. This means a lot less congestion and much better access and parking facilities on offer. 

However, some players have protested in recent years, claiming the WSOP should be moved away from the Rio. 

Changing times at Caesars

There has been a lot of change in Caesars since the start of the year. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn took a majority stake in the company in the first few months of 2019. He was in control of the majority of the board seats and was able to appoint Rodio as the company’s new CEO. 

In June, El Dorado Resorts bought Caesars Entertainment in a cash-and-stock deal worth as much as $17.3bn. This makes it the largest gambling company in the United States. 

Following this deal, the company began looking at selling a number of its properties in Las Vegas, such as the Rio.