Caesars Entertainment announced Monday morning that the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, home of the World Series of Poker for the last 15 years, has been sold for $516.3 million.
The near-Strip property in Las Vegas was sold to a group controlled by Imperial Companies, a New York-based real estate operation.
As part of the deal, Caesars will continue to run the hotel casino. Caesars will pay $45 million in rent for the first two years, and has an option for $7 million in rent for the third year of control.
Although selling its home, Caesars is still retaining the rights to the WSOP brand.
Seth Palansky, WSOP Vice President of Corporate Communications, told Card Player last week that the series will be at the Rio again in 2020 and that “people should feel confident that the 2021 WSOP will be at the Rio as well.”
The sale of the property was only a rumor at the time of the interview, but Palansky reiterated that a new owner wouldn’t affect plans for the annual summer series anytime soon. He went on to say that the convention space is booked years in advance.
“I mean, even if the property were to change hands, you think a new owner wouldn’t want to have the WSOP there, based on what it’s brought into the property for all these years? It’s a known quantity in a slow time period for convention business and the city in general.”
Since Caesars will still be running the day-to-day operations for the next two or three years, it would make sense that the Rio would continue to house the world’s largest poker series for the immediate future.
The deal seems very similar to one that MGM Resorts is considering with two of their flagship Strip properties. There are rumors that MGM could sell Bellagio and MGM Grand to Blackstone Group for a combined $7 billion, and then pay rent to Blackstone while continuing their operations. It was reported that MGM would be looking to free up capital to build a $10 billion resort in Japan.
Caesars’ CEO Tony Rodio said in the press release that the company would use the cash from the Rio sale to improve their other Strip casinos.
“This deal allows Caesars Entertainment to focus our resources on strengthening our attractive portfolio of recently renovated Strip properties and is expected to results in incremental EBITDA at those properties,” said Rodio.