We love a good rumor. And there's no shortage of rumors in Sin City. If you talk to enough locals, you start to wonder which property is next up to get imploded and rebuilt. It's part of a cycle in Vegas. Build something shiny and new from nothing, watch it get old, imploded it, then build something shiny and new. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Flush. Snort. Spin. Shoot. Cycles are impossible to break. Once you get caught in one, you're doomed to repeat the steps until eternity.
The Rio Casino was sold according to Vegas insiders. Located right off the freeway, the Rio's location and space made it extremely valuable for future owners. A group wanted to blow up the Rio and build a baseball stadium. While another group, Virgin Trains, wants to build a train station for the #XpressWest project (the high-speed railroad from LA to Vegas). According to unconfirmed reports and rumors, the train people supposedly bought the Rio. Who knows how long it will be before they shut down the casino.
With the Rio out of the future picture, the World Series of Poker will need to find a new home. That's okay because Caesars has a new convention center ready to open its doors in 2020. It's almost too perfect, eh?
That means this year might be the last time the WSOP is played out at the Rio, which has been home to the WSOP since 2005. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the WSOP too. Almost too perfect, eh?
The Rio in Las Vegas has been the home to the World Series of Poker since 2005. Caesars bought the WSOP from the company controlling Binion's Horseshoe after the legendary casino went belly up. It was truly the end of an era.
One of the last family-owned casinos in Las Vegas could not keep up with the mega-greedy corporations that began gobbling up properties on Las Vegas Blvd. At the turn of the century, downtown Las Vegas got squeezed as well. The armpit of Vegas was going to get shaved by its new corporate overlords.
But before the IRS locked the doors and seized the last of the cash, and before the deeds changed hands, the WSOP flourished in downtown Las Vegas. The two were peas in a pod. Like peanut butter and jelly. Vodka and Red Bull. Cocaine and strippers. WSOP and the Horseshoe.
Downtown and the WSOP had a deeply-rooted relationship in the 20th century. Heck, the year that Stuey Ungar had a sensational comeback, they played the final table of the WSOP Main Event outside in front of the public. Downtown Vegas and high-stakes poker went hand-in-hand for decades before the greedheads took over and whacked old Vegas like Tommy in Goodfellas walking into an empty room with plastic on the floor.
No one wanted the slot machines, but someone wanted the WSOP. After all, the brand meant something special to poker players. Many of us were defined by the WSOP. It either inspired you or tantalized you. It became your dream. It became your mission. It became your calling. It became your White Whale.
Thankfully, we could all go fishing at the Rio. The WSOP switched venues in 2005, but played the final table of the Main Event at The Horseshoe for old time's sake. Joe Hachem from Australia became the last player to win a title at the old Horseshoe.
When we left the Horseshoe around noon that day after Hachem and company played cards all night, we wondered how long it would take before Binions got leveled and the past imploded away. I don't think anyone thought that the downtown joint would actually outlive the Rio.
Let's give credit to the suits that rejuvenated the World Series of Poker. What used to be your grandpa's tournament became a sleek, global brand. And if the real world isn't your bag, you can play online poker on their website in the few states that permit online gambling. WSOP is big business these days, but for the last 14 years, the series blossomed into a mega event. Love it or hate it, the WSOP kept growing even during the dark years of federal online poker prohibition in America.
The WSOP is hosting its 50th anniversary this year. They will be awarding 80 bracelets, including multiple online events. All the slick-named events like the GIANT and COLOSSUS RUNNING OF THE DONKS will go down. And no matter how jaded you get, the historic WSOP Main Event Championship is still the marquee event at the WSOP.
If you've been waiting to check out your first-ever WSOP, or you have not been back to the Rio in a while, maybe you should book your flights to Vegas. Because based on this Rio rumor, it might legit be the last time you have a chance to saunter past the Hooker Bar and wander down the wide hallway to the convention center while wondering if you'll catch a glimpse at a former crook or criminal or maybe get a chance to see your favorite pro from YouTube or IG.
Like HST said, "Buy a ticket. Take the ride." The ride might be running one last time at the Rio. Do you want to go for one last ride?
WHEN THE MOB RAN VEGAS...
A mobster once peered into the Nevada desert and thought: big bucks. Who would be foolish enough to travel out to the edge of Death Valley? Gamblers and those sorts of adventurous folk that don't mind getting your shoes a little dirty if you want to have a good time.
Renegades and visionaries in the mafia started Vegas because it was far away enough from The Man and The Church and The Law, that the powerbrokers looked the other way about whatever went down in the Nevada desert.
But the mafia were great at showing people how to have a good time. Go nuts, don't steal, keep and you'll have a great time. Come back and bring your friends. And next time they'll have Sinatra or Fat Elvis croon some songs for you.
Toss in free drinks and cheap food, and Vegas became a popular tourist destination for the different classes in America. High rollers, nouveau-riche, working class, middle class... didn't matter where you were on the ladder. Everyone was treated like a king or queen in Vegas.
The mafia were too good at running Vegas. After all, this is America. As soon as The Man and The Banksters see a good hustle, it's a matter of time before you get squeezed. The lucky ones get bought out. The whores sell out. And the stubborn ones get stomped out. That's the way it goes.
It's their town now. They call the rules. And noobs and junkies show up hundreds at a time after they get squirted out of gliding cylinders to dump all of their cash into their coffers. And when they ran out of cash, it was time to fleece them via credit cards. Swipe away. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas while the banksters charge you 27% juice.
MLB IN VEGAS
Last year around Halloween, word got out that a potential sports group that wanted to build a baseball stadium in Las Vegas. MLB is looking to expand in the future with eyes on Montreal, Mexico City, and Las Vegas.
Las Vegas used to be off limits for pro sports teams in America. But everyone is on the sportsbetting bandwagon, so it's cool now to have gambling and pro leagues mentioned in the same breath.
The NHL took the first step with adding the Vegas Knights to the league. Then the NFL followed suit. Al Davis' son, the one with the weird haircut, decided to pull a move from Al's old playbook and screwed over the city of Oakland. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2020. The stadium is being built across the freeway from Mandalay Bay.
The Vegas Knights play a new arena snug in between old Monte Carlo (now Park MGM) and NY NY. They wanted to put the new baseball stadium on the Rio's property.
Like the ghost said in Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come."
If you build a stadium off Flamingo and across the street from the Gold Coast, then they will come!
Alas, no pro baseball in Vegas for now. The whispers suggest it's the train people. I hope it's not something out of True Detective Season 2, which was a total bust. Or maybe it's something like an old-fashioned swindle, like the time they wanted to build a monorail in Springfield on The Simpsons.