The WSOP could be on the move after 2020

Caesars Sells The Rio: Is The World Series Of Poker On The Move?

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Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced on Monday morning that it was selling the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

The big question for poker players: What does this mean for the World Series of Poker? The Rio, after all, has hosted the biggest poker tournament series for more than a decade.

The Caesars deal and WSOP impact

The buyer is “a company controlled by a principal of Imperial Companies” for $516.3 million. But that does not mean that Caesars is done with the Rio, nor the WSOP.

In fact, the release said that the WSOP would stay for 2020. The vice president of corporate communication for the WSOP, Seth Palansky, recently confirmed that fact even before the sale:

It’s even possible that the WSOP stays beyond that. The terms of the sale state that Caesars will continue to operate the property for at least two years at a rent of $45 million per year. There is also a buyer option to have Caesars extend the lease for a third year.

Here’s Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars, from a press release announcing the sale:

“This deal allows Caesars Entertainment to focus our resources on strengthening our attractive portfolio of recently renovated Strip properties and is expected to result in incremental EBITDA at those properties. The retention of the World Series of Poker and retention of Caesars Rewards customers are all factors that make this a valuable transaction for Caesars.”

The future of the WSOP

But after the terms of the lease are up — or even before — it’s very possible and even likely that the WSOP will move beyond that. Of course, there have been rumors of that more for much of the past decade; the WSOP moved to the Rio in 2005.

Given that the lease is through 2021 — and that the Rio is probably already reserved for the WSOP — it’s perhaps likely that it stays at its home for two years. If the WSOP were to move, then, 2022 might be the most likely timeframe, although we wouldn’t rule out at 2021 at this point.

Certainly, if Caesars no longer operates the property, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense for the WSOP to stay in place. So, after a long time at the Rio, the WSOP’s days there appear to be numbered.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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