|Address||2901 Las Vegas Boulevard South|
|Opening date||April 20, 1955|
|Closing date||May 4, 2015 (planned)|
|Number of rooms||2,100|
|Total gaming space||110,000 sq ft (10,000 m2)|
|Permanent shows||Crazy Girls, "Wild Illusions" featuring Dirk Arthur |
|Owner||Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority|
|Operating license holder||Paragon Gaming|
The Riviera (colloquially, "the Riv") is a hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Winchester, Nevada, owned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and operated by Paragon Gaming. It is scheduled to close on May 4, 2015, and then to be demolished to make way for convention and meeting facilities.
The hotel has over 2,100 rooms, less than half of which are located in a 23-story tower. The casino has 110,000 sq ft (10,000 m2) of gaming space.
The casino was first proposed by Detroit mobster William Bischoff as the Casa Blanca, and received a gaming license in 1952. Bischoff later withdrew from the project, which was taken over by Miami businessman Samuel Cohen. By March 1955, Cohen, identified as a member of Miami's S & G gambling syndicate, was no longer part of the investment group, though rumors persisted that he secretly maintained an involvement. Harpo Marx and Gummo Marx held minority interests at the opening.
The Riviera opened on April 20, 1955 as the first high-rise and the ninth resort on the Las Vegas Strip. The Riviera is one of the oldest and most famous casino resorts in Las Vegas. The Riviera also broke new ground in its design: previously, Strip resorts resembled roadside motor courts.
The opening of the Riviera, along with The Dunes and the Royal Nevada casino resorts within a month were the subject of a famous issue of Life Magazine, on June 20, 1955 with a Moulin Rouge showgirl on its cover. The headline was "Las Vegas—Is Boom Overextended?" and a story about how Las Vegas had built too many hotel rooms to be profitable.
The Riviera casino went bankrupt just three months after opening. A group of former Flamingo Hotel managers led by Gus Greenbaum took over operation of the property, leasing it from the ownership group. Greenbaum had recently retired, and it was widely suspected that he was coerced to return to work by threats from Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo.
Greenbaum's drug and gambling addictions led to his embezzling from the casino. In December 1958, Greenbaum and his wife were murdered in their Phoenix, Arizona home, reportedly on the orders of either Meyer Lansky or Tony Accardo.
Mob fixer Sidney Korshak played a major role in the property's management. Law enforcement agencies suspected that he represented the Chicago Outfit's interest in the Riviera, and was responsible for skimming the casino's revenue and delivering the proceeds to Chicago.
The Riviera was purchased in June 1968 by a group including bankers E. Parry Thomas and Jerome Mack, and investors tied to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp., owner of the Aladdin, Stardust, and Fremont casinos. In 1969, a deal was made to sell the Riviera to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp., but the sale was blocked by the Nevada Gaming Control Board due to a the company's previous failure to report a change of ownership.
Dean Martin was hired in 1969 to perform in the casino's showroom, and was given a 10 percent interest in the Riviera. Martin left in 1972, after management refused his request to cut his performance schedule from two nightly shows to one; the Riviera bought back his shares.
The Riviera filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1983. Riklis pledged money to keep the business in operation, and appointed Jeffrey Silver as CEO to turn the Riviera around. Silver begin shifting the Riviera's marketing focus away from high rollers, and towards middle- and working-class gamblers. He opened a Burger King franchise in the building, the first fast food chain outlet in a casino; this move inspired the phrase "Burger King Revolution" to refer to the broader trend of Las Vegas casinos catering to middle-class customers.
The Riviera underwent an expansion from 1988 to 1990. The project went significantly over budget, leading the parent company to file again for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1991. The business emerged from bankruptcy in 1993 as Riviera Holdings Corp., owned by the previous secured creditors.
On July 12, 2010, Riviera Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Its bankruptcy included a reorganization plan under which secured lenders, led by Starwood Capital Group, would receive new debt and stock. The plan was negotiated with holders of 2/3 of the secured debt worth over $275 million, which included a $225 million term loan, unpaid interest and amounts owing on a swap agreement. Riviera Holdings listed assets and liabilities of $100 to $500 million each.
Under the terms of the agreement negotiated by Starwood, secured lenders would receive a new $50 million loan plus 80% of the new stock. Lenders who provide $20 million in a so-called new money loan would receive 8 percent of the new stock plus warrants for another 10 percent. Creditors who provide a $10 million working capital loan would receive 7 percent of the new stock. The last 5 percent of the new stock goes to the lenders in return for providing a backstop insuring availability for the $30 million in loans. Existing Riviera shareholders received nothing.
The Riviera lost $4.5 million on income of $30.8 million in the first quarter of 2010. The decline in popularity of the Riviera was caused in part by the decline of pedestrian foot traffic in the vicinity. Previously, the Riviera was surrounded by the Stardust, New Frontier, and Westward Ho, properties which were demolished to make room for new construction. A shutdown in the new construction in progress at the adjacent Fontainebleau Resort Las Vegas and Echelon Place contributed to the Riviera's decline. The company had 1300 employees in Las Vegas and 260 employees in Black Hawk, Colorado.
In February 2015, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority acquired the Riviera hotel and its associated land for $182.5 million. The property was leased back to its existing operators, Paragon Gaming, who were expected to close it on May 4, 2015. After winding down operations the hotel will be closed and demolished to make way for a planned expansion of LVCVA's Las Vegas Global Business District exhibit and meeting center project.
The 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) casino floor offers about 900 slot machines and 100 table games, including craps, blackjack, and roulette, along with mini-baccarat, pai gow poker, Let It Ride, and three-card poker. The Riviera poker program features daily tournaments, Texas Hold’em to 7 Card Stud to No Limit Hold’em. They also feature a large bad beat progressive jackpot, which they claim is one of the largest on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Riviera also has one of the largest Bingo rooms in all of Las Vegas, and was recently voted the 'Best Bingo Room' by the Review Journal.
Liberace was the featured headliner at the resort's opening, and for many years afterward.
In 2006, Splash, a traditional Las Vegas revue, ended an extended run at the Riviera.
The resort has one long-running show:
Jan Rouven no longer performs at Riviera. He is now headlining at The New Tropicana Las Vegas.
As of 2010, the Riviera has a near-monopoly on championship-level North American and international amateur pool (pocket billiards) tournaments held in the United States, aside from the Florida-based U.S. Amateur Championship. The hotel's convention center hosts the Billiard Congress of America, American Poolplayers Association, Valley National 8-Ball Association and American Cuesports Alliance pool leagues' annual international championships, and various related events. BCA scheduled their 2011 and 2012 amateur championships at the Riviera, as well as the 2011 professional U.S. Open Ten-ball Championship. APA publicly announced events at the Riv through August 28, 2010. However, VNEA announced in May 2010 that their event would move to Bally's, further down the Strip, in 2011.
The Riviera is often chosen as a shooting location due to its history and recognition as a landmark. Portions of the following features were filmed at The Riviera:
The majority of the television series Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling was shot in the Riviera Hotel during its four-year run and subsequent 1991 pay-per-view. The game show Hollywood Squares also taped its final syndicated season at the Riviera, from 1980-81.
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