Riviera (hotel and casino)

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Riviera Las Vegas logo.svg
Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vagas.jpg
Address 2901 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Opening date April 20, 1955
Closing date May 4, 2015 (planned)
Theme Modern
Number of rooms 2,100
Total gaming space 110,000 sq ft (10,000 m2)
Permanent shows Illusions Starring Jan Rouven
Casino type Land-based
Owner Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
Operating license holder Paragon
Renovated in 1999
Website rivierahotel.com

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.[1]

The hotel has over 2,100 rooms, many located in a 23-story tower. The casino has 110,000 sq ft (10,000 m2) of gaming space.


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 was built by a group of investors from Miami. The resort has gone through many ownership changes over the years, including a period of control by owners linked to the MafiaMeyer Lansky for example— (as was the case for many Vegas resorts in the 1960s and 1970s). Harpo Marx and Gummo Marx held minority interests at the opening. The Marx brothers also owned slightly under ten percent of the Hotel. It is said that Gummo talked his brother into putting money into the Hotel, for it would be a great place for him to perform. Harpo was easily sold. Dean Martin once held a minority ownership stake while he was a headliner in the showroom. Gus Greenbaum was brought in to manage the Riviera in 1955. He had successfully managed the Flamingo Hotel after the death of Bugsy Siegel. However, 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.[2]

Meshulam Riklis bought the Riviera in 1973 for $56 million. The hotel/casino filed bankruptcy in 1984 and then again in 1991, at which time Riklis lost ownership. Ownership was then acquired by Riviera Holdings Corp.[3]

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.

In 2009, An Evening at La Cage, featuring female impersonators including Frank Marino and his impersonation of Joan Rivers, ended one of the longest runs in Strip history.


On July 12, 2010, in Re: Riviera Holdings Corp filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas). Its bankruptcy included a reorganization plan under which secured lenders, led by Greenwich-based 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 Company listed assets and liabilities of $100 to $500 million each in the filing in Las Vegas Bankruptcy Court.

Under the terms of the agreement negotiated by Starwood Capital Group, the reorganization plan calls for secured lenders to receive a new $50 million loan plus 80% of the new stock. Lenders who provide $20 million in a so-called new money loan will receive 8 percent of the new stock plus warrants for another 10 percent. Creditors who provide a $10 million working capital loan are to 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 in Las Vegas was caused in part by the decline of pedestrian foot traffic in the vicinity of the hotel casino. Previously, The Riviera was surrounded by The Stardust, The New Frontier and The 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 casino has 1300 employees in Las Vegas, Nevada, and 260 employees employed 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.[1] 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.[4]

Film history[edit]

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.


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.[5]

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.[4]

Crazy Girls[edit]

The resort has one long-running show:

  • Crazy Girls, a topless show. The performers for Crazy Girls, including deceased transgender showgirl Jahna Steele, are immortalized with a bronze sculpture at the front of the casino unveiled in 1997[6] with the phrase No "Ifs", "Ands" or.... The thong-clad buttocks on it have been worn to a shine by passers-by rubbing them. The sculpture is based on a promotional photo for the show.[7][8] Riviera ads with the same photo used to appear on Vegas taxicabs, and it was restored for a shot in the film Domino.[9] The Crazy Girls were the inspiration for the 2008 film Crazy Girls Undercover.

Jan Rouven[edit]

  • Starlight Theater In June 2011 the Starlite Theatre reopened its doors. Mary Wilson of the Supremes was the headliner through July 4, 2011. The Village People and Comedian Andrew Dice Clay also headlined the venue. In June 2012 German Illusionist Jan Rouven took over the Starlite Theatre to headline there six nights a week. His show ILLUSIONS became one of the most successful shows the Riviera ever had. The hotel's sole other venue is the Riviera Comedy Club.

Jan Rouven no longer performs at Riviera. He is now headlining at The New Tropicana Las Vegas.

Previous acts[edit]

  • Barbra and Frank: The Concert That Never Was, (Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra impersonators). This show has now moved to the off strip Las Vegas Westin Casuarina.
  • Dao – The Asian Celebration, which according to the Riviera's website offers "acrobatics, dance and martial arts in fusion with stunning costumes, exquisite stage design and beautiful music... mind and body in motion".
  • ICE, an ice dancing show featuring Russian skaters; cancelled in November 2009.
  • Greg London's ICONS
  • Society of Seven
  • Pat DiNizio's 'Confessions Of A Rock Star'
  • ""Mike Tricarichi Presents Steve-O & Tom Green's 'Icons of Comedy: Original Pranksters Tour' with Opening Act Tom Garland

Pocket billiards (pool)[edit]

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,[10] American Poolplayers Association,[11] Valley National 8-Ball Association[12] and American Cuesports Alliance[13] pool leagues' annual international championships, and various related events. BCA has scheduled their 2011 and 2012 amateur championships at the Riviera, as well as the 2011 professional U.S. Open Ten-ball Championship.[10] APA has publicly announced events at the Riv through August 28, 2010.[11] However, VNEA announced in May 2010 that their event would move to Bally's, further down the Strip, in 2011[12] ACS has not yet posted 2011 event information to their website (as of June 13, 2010).

Notable performers[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Richard N. Velotta; Howard Stutz (February 20, 2015). "In historic vote, LVCVA approves purchase of Riviera". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2015-02-20. 
  2. ^ The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes by Michael Newton, Checkmark Books (August 2004) ISBN 0-8160-4981-5
  3. ^ http://www.a2zlasvegas.com/hotels/history/h-riviera.html
  4. ^ a b Las Vegas Sun
  5. ^ Riviera Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Review
  6. ^ Crazy Girls News
  7. ^ Crazy Girls Main Page
  8. ^ Crazy-Girls-Butts.jpg
  10. ^ a b "Upcoming Events". PlayBCA.com. Henderson, NV: CueSports International. 2010. "Events" section. Retrieved June 13, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b "APA Tournament Information". PoolPlayers.com. Lake Saint Louis, MO: American Poolplayers Association. 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b "30th Anniversary: VNEA International Pool Championships". VNEA.com. Bay City, MI: Valley National 8-Ball Association (VNEA). 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2010. 
  13. ^ "2010 National 8-Ball & 9-Ball – June 6–12, 2010: Tournament Guidelines and Entry Forms". AmericanCueSports.org. Green Bay, WI: American CueSports Alliance. 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°08′06″N 115°09′43″W / 36.135°N 115.162°W / 36.135; -115.162