Caesars to Reopen the Rio by the End of the Year

  • The Rio is the only Caesars casino in Las Vegas that is still closed
  • Caesars hotel occupancy in Vegas has returned to “basically normal”
  • World Series of Poker had to move online because of the Rio’s shutdown
  • Caesars suffered a net loss of $926 in the third quarter
Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino at sunset
Caesars has announced that it will finally reopen the Rio, home of the World Series of Poker, by the end of the year. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Caesars business is picking up

Closed since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino will reopen before the end of the year. Caesars Entertainment chief executive Tom Reeg confirmed the decision on Thursday during the company’s third quarter earnings call. The Rio will be the last Caesars owned or operated property to reopen in Las Vegas.

It has been a gradual process for Caesars to welcome back customers in Las Vegas, as it has opted to hold back certain casinos while customer demand built back up. Reeg said that Governor Steve Sisolak’s relaxing of pandemic restrictions helped Caesars to get back to “basically a normal level of bookings” in the third quarter. Hotels were up over 90% occupancy on weekends and in the mid-50s during the week, averaging out to “just under 60%.”

is going to be beyond your wildest dreams”

Reeg said once the pandemic cools – most likely with a vaccine – “the pent-up demand” for Las Vegas and casinos “is going to be beyond your wildest dreams.”

Convention business is still non-existent in Las Vegas because of the pandemic, but when it does eventually return, Caesars will be ready. In addition to convention space at its casino properties, it opened the 550,000-square-foot Caesars Forum the same week everything had to shutdown in March.

WSOP forced to move online

Though Caesars has several properties in Las Vegas, including Caesars Palace, Paris, Bally’s, and the Flamingo, one of its best known in the gambling world is, in fact, the off-Strip Rio. The Rio is the center of the poker world every summer, serving as the home of the World Series of Poker since 2005.

Of course, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no traditional WSOP at the Rio this year. Caesars pushed the WSOP Circuit events online fairly early during the pandemic shutdown, but held off as long as possible to make a decision on the granddaddy poker festival. Eventually, the 2020 WSOP Online was created, split between WSOP.com and GGPoker.

Caesars no longer owns the Rio, having sold it to Dreamscape Companies, a new real estate company owned by Eric Birnbaum, late last year. Dreamscape is leasing the property to Caesars for $45m per year. Caesars kept the World Series of Poker brand in the transaction.

Rocky 2020 hasn’t been boring

For the third quarter, Caesars Entertainment generated $1.4bn in net revenues, a decrease of about one-third on a same-store basis compared to the same period last year. The company suffered a net loss, however of $926m, compared to net income of $37m in the third quarter of 2019.

It was an extremely busy quarter for the company, as the former Caesars completed its $17.3b merger with Eldorado Resorts to create the new Caesars Entertainment. It also agreed to buy UK-based sports betting company William Hill for £2.9bn (US$3.8bn).

Reports are that Caesars plans to sell William Hill’s non-US businesses and it will likely have suitors immediately. 888 Holdings has expressed interest in acquiring William Hill’s non-US assets, while Betfred’s owner may want to scoop up William Hill’s UK retail outlets.

The company also signed a multi-year sports betting partnership with ESPN and agreed to sell Tropicana Evansville (Indiana) to Twin River Worldwide Holdings.