About The Riviera

13 Jul 2010 | 16:35

Well, the writing was on the wall and it looks like the inevitable has finally occurred.

The 2,075-room Riviera Hotel and Casino has declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  The casino is roughly $250 million dollars in debt under an agreement made with creditors in 2007, and it does not look like repayments are possible at this point.

Last year, the property informed the SEC that it would attempt to restructure its debt to avoid BK, but it is clear that those efforts were not successful.  The bankruptcy is supported by the majority of Riviera's creditors, which means that the property will most likely be able to stay open throughout the BK proceedings.  With that being said, the long-term viability of the property is almost certainly in question at this point.

I've only stayed at the Riv twice in my lifetime, but both of those visits were memorable because of the nostalgia vibe.  Sure, the rooms were somewhat dated and in one case, smoke smelling, but this was easy to excuse given the amount of years the rooms had been in existence.

I've seen Crazy Girls several times, played in the poker room on numerous occasions, played just about every game imaginable on the casino floor, and have usually enjoyed my trips to the aging property.

These days, the Riviera is very much out of favor with, well, just about everyone.  This is somewhat surprising given that this is the location where your favorite fictitious characters in the galaxy's worst movie (The Hangover) went on a Blackjack winning streak.  I half expected the place to get some of its mojo back after the flick premiered, but alas, not even Hollywood could save the image of the ailing property.

In 2010, it's almost impossible to even mention the Riviera to the under-50 crowd without someone immediately replying "dump".  Most people are outright hostile toward the place, and I can't help but think that it's at least a little bit undeserved.

The Riviera is still home to the very best neon that Las Vegas has to offer, they still have the world famous bronze asses near the front entrance, the room rates are still damn-near free, and the Riv is still the domicile of the aforementioned iconic Crazy Girls show.

Frankly, I am glad that I stayed there, if for no other reason than to say that I have.  You never know how long the elderly venues are going to be around anymore, and instead of pointing fingers at places like this and calling them uncool, it wouldn't kill people to spend a little time inside and soaking in some of the leftover gaudiness of yesteryear.  The Riviera doesn't pretend to be hip and cool.  It knows it needs to take Geritol.  Despite this, it still continues to do its best, and work with what it has.  It would really be a shame to see the world's largest display of neon diarrhea end up in the boneyard.

I hope the Riviera survives, and even thrives ... but deep down I realize that there is little reason for optimism.  The death of both Echelon Place and the Fountainblew has resulted in an insurmountable alienation of the North Strip (which I define as everything north of The Fashion Show Mall), and there is no reason to believe that things will improve anytime soon.  When even the newest and shiniest casinos such as City Center struggle to meet 70% occupancy figures, it appears that it will take nothing less than a miracle to salvage some of the older properties from complete financial insolvency.

Here's hoping for just that miracle.

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