Posted on: November 14, 2022, 11:03h. 

Last updated on: November 14, 2022, 12:25h.

The Riviera Hotel & Casino Las Vegas was demolished through two controlled implosions conducted in June and August 2016. More than six years later, part of the land where the iconic Strip resort once stood is finally moving closer to redevelopment.

Riviera Las Vegas Strip casino resort Claudio Fischer
The Riviera Hotel & Casino is seen on May 3, 2015, before the Las Vegas Strip casino’s permanent closure. The land where the iconic resort once stood will soon be sold to a Chilean casino developer and operator. (Image: Getty)

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) purchased the bankrupt Riviera in February 2015 for $182.5 million. The taxpayer-funded government entity spent another $42 million the following year to bring the casino to the ground and make way for the West Hall expansion of the LVCVA’s Convention Center.

The LVCVA later determined that about 10 acres of the Riviera’s former 26-acre complex wouldn’t be needed for the West Hall project. The vacant 10-acre lot was put on the market in February 2019, and the tourism agency eventually found a buyer by way of Chile.

Chilean billionaire Claudio Fischer made his fortune by owning one of the world’s largest salmon farms. In 2016, he entered the Chilean gaming industry by acquiring Sun Dreams, which owns seven casinos in the South American country, including the company’s flagship Monticello casino and resort near Santiago.

Fischer wants to expand his gaming portfolio to the epicenter of the global casino industry. But COVID-19 greatly stalled his plans to build on the Las Vegas Strip.

Project Still a Go

In early 2020, Fischer agreed to purchase the 10-acre plot from the LVCVA for $120 million. The pandemic stalled the transaction, with the two sides agreeing to delay the deal until the health crisis subsided.

Speaking recently with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill revealed that Fischer is still on board to acquire the former Riviera land. And the $120 million purchase price is unchanged.

We see this parcel as a real opportunity for the entire neighborhood. Not only is it our next-door neighbor, but it’s next door to the Fontainebleau and across the street from Resorts World,” Hill explained. “It’s a place where all those properties can meet.”

“The growth of the northern part of the Strip is important to us, and we see this as a real opportunity because there are a lot of great things going into this area along the resort corridor,” the LVCVA chief executive added.

Hill said it’s the agency’s goal to close the $120 million transaction by the end of November. But Fischer has requested that the deadline be postponed until December 15.

Strip Interest High

The Las Vegas Strip has more than rebounded from the pandemic. The main drag has experienced unprecedented gaming since life returned last year to a sense of normality.

Nevada casinos have won at least $1 billion in each of the previous 19 months. The Strip is the state’s most critical gaming market, and is most responsible for the record run.

Fischer isn’t the only billionaire who wants to become a Strip casino owner. Fellow gaming tycoon Tilman Fertitta, who owns the Golden Nugget downtown and four other casinos across the country, acquired about six acres of Strip frontage earlier this year for $270 million.

Fertitta’s lot is in the middle of the Strip opposite CityCenter and Aria, Vdara, and the Waldorf Astoria. The Landry’s owner is readying to demolish the now-shuttered Travelodge motel his land acquisition included to make way for a new, from-the-ground-up casino resort.

Early blueprints suggest a 43-story hotel with more than 2,400 guestrooms, a 2,500-seat theater, a spa, a convention center, and an auto showroom where major auctions could be held.