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May 23, 2019

Will 2019 Be the Last Year the Rio Hosts the WSOP?

By RTR Dennis

665x200 may19 rio wsop

The Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino has been hosting the World Series of Poker since 2005. However, recent rumors suggest that the world’s largest poker extravaganza might need a new home after 2019.

According to a Las Vegas insider, the Rio could be sold and demolished in the near future. Caesars Entertainment will undoubtedly need to search for another location in this event. That said, let’s discuss the rumors involving the Rio and where the WSOP might end up.

Rio Could be Sold to Make Way for a High Speed Train

The Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino isn’t the newest property in Las Vegas. However, it remains a profitable resort and has been a pretty good host for the WSOP.

Why then is Caesars considering selling it? Furthermore, who would want to buy this casino just to demolish it?

Las Vegas Locally explained through a couple of tweets regarding both the possible sale and demolition. They tweeted:

“Source: The @RioVegas is in the process of being sold and will soon be demolished. […] @virgintrains, the company behind the SoCal-to-Vegas high-speed rail project #XpressWest, may be the buyer.”

You can see that a high-speed train appears to be the reasoning behind the motivated buyer. It should be stressed that this is nothing more than a rumor at the current time. However, we haven’t heard much chatter about the Rio being sold or the WSOP being moved in past years.

Some pros have wondered if the 2019 WSOP will proceed as scheduled. David ‘ODB’ Baker tweeted at tournament organizers about the matter. The WSOP social media account assured Baker that the event will definitely be running at the Rio this summer.

Caesars Entertainment Reportedly for Sale

As if the Rio story isn’t enough, the parent company Caesars is also being shopped around. Carl Icahn, who owns a 15.5% stake in the $6.1 billion company, is pushing for a sale.

Potential buyers include Eldorado Resorts and Tilman Fertitta, who owns Landry’s, Golden Nugget Casinos, and the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Fool.com notes that it’s difficult to assess either’s ability to purchase Caesars.

The extent of Fetitta’s wealth is unknown. After all, Landry’s is a privately held company. Eldorado Resorts has a $3.8 billion market cap, which is only two-thirds the size of Caesars. Both parties would likely need additional financing to pull off such a deal.

In any case, the idea of Caesars being for sale is at least drawing notable news coverage. It also presents another scenario in which the World Series of Poker could be moved from the Rio.

A new buyer might want to move the event to another one of its current properties. Or they could also make the decision to sell to Virgin Trains.

Is the WSOP Due for a New Host in 2020 Anyways?

Assuming none of these rumors are true, the 2020 WSOP would likely be right back in the Rio. But then again, maybe it won’t.

Complaints have slowly grown over the past few years. Players have railed event organizers over leaky roofs and power outages at the Rio. This casino isn’t exactly falling apart, but it will need major renovations in order to stay current.

The reason why the WSOP moved from Binion’s to the Rio in 2005 is because the former was no longer suitable. Binion’s lacked the necessary space and facilities to host prime-time poker tournaments.

Again, the Rio hasn’t quite entered this danger zone. But in a few more years, it could move closer to Binion’s dilapidated condition.

Now could be the perfect time for Caesars to sell the Rio and move their world-famous poker event. It could also be the point at which the company itself is sold and the new buyer chooses another home for the WSOP. That said, it’ll be interesting to see if the 2020 WSOP moves beyond the Rio.