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Rio Las Vegas Will Reopen On December 22

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • Caesars Entertainment has announced that the Rio Las Vegas All-Suite Hotel and Casino will reopen on December 22.
  • The Rio is the last of Caesars properties in Southern Nevada to reopen.
  • The hotel will only be open on weekends until further notice though the gaming floor will be open 24/7.

With COVID-19 ‘spreading like wildfire‘ across Nevada it isn’t the best time for a gaming company to reopen a property. That notwithstanding, Caesars Entertainment have announced that the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will reopen at 10 AM Pacific on December 22. Less than a week ago, CEO Tom Reeg indicated that the property would most likely reopen by the end of the year and no time was wasted in making that happen.

The fate of the Rio has been very much in doubt since Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak shut down the state’s gaming industry on March 14 in hopes of mitigating the coronavirus pandemic. At one point, the Rio was a downright revolutionary resort on a number of levels. That is no longer the case and the Rio is a bit dated both in terms of design and decor. This is true regardless of any modifications in operations might be necessary longterm post COVID-19. It will need some serious renovation to get up to 21st Century standards.

The longterm status of the Rio among Caesars Entertainment’s portfolio of properties in Southern Nevada is still up for speculation. In the company’s most recent earnings call (Q3) CEO Reeg intimated that there are properties that Caesars is ‘anticipating selling’. He didn’t provide any details as to which ones are on the block or for that matter which market they’re in. If the Rio ends up getting sold there is a whole range of options on the table from renovation to implosion.

In the short term, however, the reopening of the Rio has some significant symbolic value for Caesars Entertainment. It represents not only the last of the company’s Southern Nevada properties to be reopened but will also mean that all of the Caesars Entertainment properties in the US and Canada are open for business. Here’s what Anthony Carano, President and Chief Operating Officer of Caesars Entertainment, had to say about the reopening:

“As the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino prepares to resume operations on December 22, this marks the final Caesars Entertainment resort to reopen in the U.S. and Canada. The past nine months have been filled with challenges, as well as opportunities including the merging of our two gaming companies to form the new Caesars Entertainment. We recognize the incredible effort it has taken to reopen our resorts and get us to this important milestone, and we look forward to welcoming our Team Members and Guests back to Rio with their health and safety still top of mind.”

Despite CEO Reeg indicating in the Q3 earnings call that ‘we are not going to be talking about shutting properties midweek’ they are making one concession to the battered state of the Las Vegas gaming and tourism industry. While the casino gaming floor will be open 7 days a week the hotel will only be open Thursday through Monday to accommodate weekend stays. The press release does note that the Rio hotel will go to 7 days a week December 23, 2020 through January 3, 2021. I’d assume what happens after that depends on customer demand.

As far as the amenities that will be available upon reopening:

Dining and drink amenities at the off-Strip resort will include the All-American Bar & Grille, Hash House A Go Go, Starbucks, VooDoo Steak, Sports Deli, Shutters Bar, iBar, Purple Zebra Daiquiri Bar, Race & Sports Book Bar and Masquerade Bar. The property also will offer a fitness center and Rio Logo gift shop. Valet will remain closed.

Interestingly, the Caesars Entertainment press release announcing the Rio reopening has this little blurb about the sports book:

Additionally, Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino will debut the newly branded William Hill Sports Book on reopening day, with new customer offerings that include self-service sports betting kiosks and an expanded betting menu featuring LIVE InPlay Wagering.

I’m wondering if this will be the case. The previous press releases announcing Caesars properties reopening in Southern Nevada--most recently The Cromwell with a release dated October 29– have also touted the ‘William Hill’ branding but to the contrary it looks as if the company is already following through with the plans they announced in the earnings call to reserve the WH branding for third party sportsbooks. If you head over to the company’s consumer facing website right now you’ll see a carousel down the page featuring the sportsbooks at The Linq, Caesars Palace and the Cromwell. Nowhere is the William Hill brand shown or mentioned:

There are still several major properties that remain closed. Las Vegas Review-Journal business reporter Bailey Schulz ran down the list and their current status based on statements from the companies that own them:

Only seven of the casinos run by the six largest Nevada-based casino companies remain dark. Boyd Gaming Corp. has yet to reopen Eastside Cannery, Main Street Station and Eldorado Casino, and Station Casinos’ Texas Station, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho and Palms are still closed.

In a Nov. 6 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Red Rock Resorts, the parent company of Station Casinos, said it will “continue to assess the performance of the reopened properties and demand in the Las Vegas locals gaming market before considering whether to reopen” the four properties.

In an earnings call last month, Boyd President CEO Keith Smith said the company would likely reopen Main Street first, followed by Eastside Cannery and then Eldorado, but “it will depend on how the business flows.” He expects Main Street to open sometime in 2021, but said there’s not enough demand to reopen Eastside or Eldorado yet.

That’s pretty much the way things are throughout the world gaming industry right now–properties will reopen a) when demand justifies that they do so and b) when it is safe for them to do so.

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