The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino will be swamped with poker players from around the world from September 30, when the 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) kicks off with the first three of 88 scheduled events. It could be the last time the Rio hosts a WSOP if reports circulating social media are believed.
The Rio has been the sole host of the WSOP since 2005. It is not the most elegant or luxurious venue in Las Vegas, but running 15 WSOP means the property is steeped in poker history. Doubts over the Rio continuing to host the WSOP surfacedin September 2019 following its $516.3 million sale to New York-based real estate company Imperial Companies.
WSOP’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, Seth Palansky, acted quickly to dispel any rumors, tweeting “Can 100% confirm WSOP will take place at the Rio in Las Vegas in 2020.”
Sklansky addressed the WSOP future in an interview with CardPlayer, stating, “People should feel confident that the 2021 WSOP will be at the Rio as well.”
Of course, the WSOP as we know it never happened in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 edition, however, is set to run from September 30 through November 23.
WSOP’s New Home Revealed By An Unlikely Source
News about the WSOP moving to Bally’s in the famous Las Vegas Strip broke via the most unlikely sources.
The Valley National 8-Ball League Association (VNLA) posted an update on its Facebook page. The VNEA usually hosts its annual championships at Bally’s but moves to the Westgate Las Vegas from 2020 and beyond.
Part of the announcement reads: “VNEA’s long-term contract with Bally’s Hotel & Casino was suddenly canceled by Bally’s as a result of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) moving from Rio to the Bally’s/Paris properties in 2020 and beyond.”
Sklansky nor anyone else from the WSOP has commented at the time of writing.
The Future of the Rio
Caesars retained hosting rights for the WSOP as part of the $516.3 million deal for the Rio. The deal was for Caesars to continue operating the Rio for at least two years while paying $45 million per year for rent in a lease-back agreement. Rio’s owners, Imperial Companies, have the option to pay Caesars $7 million to extend the lease under similar terms for a third year.
It appears that Imperial is not exercising that option. Instead, the Rio is to become a Hyatt Regency hotel.
Hyatt issued a press release in March 2021 stating, “The more than 2,5100-room Rio Las Vegas will be renovated and rebranded into multiple Hyatt full-service brand flags, and will undergo a redevelopment of the current public spaces, including gaming, retail, food and beverage, spa and fitness, and pool recreation deck.”
One of the existing Rio towers is to become a 1,501-room Hyatt Regency hotel. Rio’s other guestrooms are to be renovated before being branded or affiliated with one or more of Hyatt’s other service brands.
Rumors circulating in 2019 suggested the WSOP could move to the new Caesars Convention Center located across the street from Caesars Palace. Moving to Bally’s seems the more likely option because it frees up the Convention Center.
Bally’s has approximately 175,000 square feet of space while neighboring Paris has an additional 140,000 square feet, including more than 85,000 in a pillar-less ballroom. The two adjacent properties are connected via a hallway, making it easy for players and staff to move between the two. Both Bally’s and Paris are Casears-owned properties.
Players are used to moving between rooms at the Rio because the WSOP utilizes a trio of rooms with a combined space of approximately 235,000 square feet.
PokerNews will bring you more information as this story develops.