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Imperial Companies Acquires Rio; Caesars Still Owns WSOP

Big news struck the city of Las Vegas as one of the all-time favorites of Vegas visitors and poker players has been sold for a total of $516.3 million to a company called Imperial Companies. The New York-based real estate giant announced on Monday in a filing for Securities and Exchange Commission that they had acquired the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, the legendary property owned by Caesars Entertainment.

In a statement which officially announced the deal, the CEO of Caesars Entertainment, Tony Rodio, said that the deal enabled the company to focus their resources on making their active portfolio stronger. He added that their properties on the Strip would get an “incremental cash flow” with Rio being sold.

One part of the deal includes Caesars operating for two more years. They will have to pay the rent, though, which is $45 million per year in a lease-back agreement, as stated in a report in CDC Gaming Reports. Moreover, the popular Caesars Rewards program for customers will still be in The Rio as long as the company maintains operations there.

The most important thing is, however, that the company will continue to host the World Series of Poker tournaments at the Rio for the time being.

Rodio was also content with the fact that they get to retain the World Series of Poker and the Caesars Rewards loyalty program, stating that those factors make the deal very valuable for Caesars.

Major Question Answered

The WSOP tournament is the single most popular poker tournament in the world, which attracts thousands of players from all over the globe. Winning the Main Event of the WSOP is believed to be the most prestigious poker reward a poker player could get.

The tournament is closely associated with the Rio, and that’s why many poker lovers were afraid of Caesars selling the property. However, it seems that they have nothing to worry about in the next period, as no changes were announced considering WSOP right now.

It was already speculated that the Rio would be sold ever since Caesars merged with Eldorado, forming the biggest casino operator in the US. The CEO of Eldorado, Thomas Reeg, stated that he expected two out of nine venues in Las Vegas to be sold after the merger, and the Brazilian-themed resort was something everyone immediately thought about.

Rio has a long and successful history, and it became one of the favorites, especially among poker players. The resort was opened back in January 1990, located west of the Strip and the Caesars Palace, which had already been established as one of the iconic venues back in the day.

At that point, Rio had a total of 2,522 suites. The property became part of Harrah’s Entertainment in 1998, and the company eventually changed its name to Caesars Entertainment.

David Katz, who is a gaming analyst for Jeffries, stated that the sale would positively affect Caesars and Eldorado, both financially and strategically. According to Katz, the sale should reduce the exposure of the companies to the Las Vegas market and reduce the leverage, which was their goal all along.

The Buyer

The company that bought The Rio is called Imperial Companies, and it was established by Eric Birnbaum and Michael Fascitelli back in 2014. It focuses on real estate investment, development, and management for mixed-use, hospitality, and residential assets all over the US.

So, poker lovers will have an opportunity to enjoy the WSOP in 2020. However, the future of the most popular poker tournament of the world will be determined next year when some final answers must be provided.