Should Derek Stevens Buy Out The Riviera?

The ground at the Northern end of the Strip is rumbling with the sounds of bums rushing in with money. The Nu-Sahara opens in three weeks, construction crews are poised to arrive at Resorts World any day now, MGM is renting out the old El Rancho parcel to host an occasional rock concert, the old Hilton is now in the taught grip of Westgate Resorts and Packer & Pascal are all in on a new frontier.

MGM's plans with Circus Circus are clear - squeeze every damn cent out before it makes sense to implode and rebuild. Carl Icahn's plans with Fontainebleau are the same as it was when he bought it from arrears - cold storage till he finds the right sucker to lick his price tag.

And then there is the Riviera.

Desert Rock Enterprises LLC, an investment corporation created by Derek and Greg Stevens holds 20% stake in the Riviera (as well as 65% of the Golden Gate and 100% of The D Las Vegas via sister corporation Desert Rock Enterprises II).

So the question for you is... Should Derek Stevens buy out the Riviera?

Full disclosure: is partnering with Derek Stevens and The D to produce the Vegas Internet Mafia Family Picnic in October 2014. We have not consulted with or contacted Derek or Desert Rock Enterprises about this poll.

Yes [75%]

No [25%]

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Comments & Discussion:

Yes. Absolutely. I've wondered whether something is already in the works. The North Strip is the sweet spot during this decade's boom times, and Derek Stevens needs to transform the Riv before the price gets too high. By the turn of the next decade, we'll have Genting, Packer, SLS Las Vegas, MGM's thing at the Strip & Sahara, a decision on Fontainebleau, and I hope, a new Riv. The times they are a-changin'.

It depends on how much money he has to rennovate the place. The Riviera needs a ton of work and is much bigger than The D. I am not sure he can get away with the same type of overhaul. It might need more of an SLS/Sahara teardown.

Parchedearth states my main concern - cost. The other ownership interests may not quite be in a position to be overly extortive, but maybe they are now that balls are rollin' up there. There's a few variables in play with that, obviously.

Having not been in the Riv for about 5 years and never have stayed there, I couldn't begin to imagine those costs. And if we are thinking about any sort of North Strip momentum, what does that mean for the Riv's market share? Those are the fiscal concerns in my eyes.

But since I know little of those specifics, I'd have to think that Stevens knows what's he's doing with turnarounds. As a hands-on owner/operator with respectable success in creating a desirable casino experience. That's my gut speaking, and why I answered "yes" on the poll.

The Riv has a special place in my heart because that's where I stayed my very first trip to Vegas.

I do seem to recall they did a refresh of some of the rooms in the Monaco Tower a few years back. The rooms they show on their website do look like they've been refreshed at least once in the last decade (They has done a refresh of the rooms around the time I stayed there.).

I think that he'll continue to focus on Fremont Street and will acquire at least another two properties there.

Only if he can find another slang term for penis to name it after.

I voted no (I'll explain why in a moment).

It wouldn't be a bad move for Derek to diversify his holdings beyond Downtown. And it helps that he already has a minority stake in the property. But I'd rather see The D, Golden Gate, and the old courthouse property become truly spectacular destinations for the time being.

Let's let the Riv be ... for now. With all the new construction planned in that area, the North end of the Strip needs to hold on to some classic Vegas. Also, not everyone wants - or can afford - boutique luxury hotel rooms. And those construction workers will need a place to stay and blow off some steam while the new hotness gets built.

See, if Derek buys the Riv outright, I think he'll be tempted to overhaul it too soon. In 10 years, sure, have at it: major renovations, a new name, implosions. But not yet. Do some light upgrades, boost the room rates by a few dollars and let it be.

No. Why would he want to compete with people who have Macau exposure and all of the cash associated with it? How is the hell is Derek Stevens possibly going get the capital that it would take to compete with the big boys?

Strip properties largely require an integrated resort model, which is far removed from his area of expertise.

We can argue about this, but strip visitors simply don't care about "fair" games like they used to, hence the proliferation of 6:5 blackjack. So, I see little room for a gambler-friendly property on the Strip given the increasing non-gaming revenues.

How much went into the D, $100M? SLS spent about $600M, if I recall correctly. Genting and Packer will combine for $6-7B in investments.

Let's not turn Mr. Steven's into someone he is not, just because of the fandom that surrounds him in certain circles.

I voted no as I love his hands on approach and a property on the strip would take away from his Fremont properties.

After seeing the success we had funding Dr. Dave's book with Kickstarter, maybe Derek can let us go in with him on a Riv purchase.

No--for now...

Its not like you can pick up the Riviera and move is where it is in relation to the rest of the Strip...

While a lot of ink and breath is going to be expended on the opening of SLS this month, the jury is still out as to whether or not Sam can get the sort of clientle he needs to hop on the monorail and make it work.

Let Mr. Stevens continue to work on making the D and the Golden Gate profitable long term.

The Riv will still be there..

Don't forget the mistakes that Boyd and other operators have made in recent years...

Would it be wrong to wish he would buy the Vegas Club instead?

I like the idea, and I share some of the concerns, but if Derek is looking to buy into the strip, I think the time is now, and the Riv would make sense.

However with the potential development of the courthouse outside of a stage area on the horizon, I'm not sure it's the perfect time for Derek to extend himself so far. Plus let's face it, the Riv isn't going to be hot for anyone that doesn't have a solid mid-low roller book to fill it with, and although the price may go up with the other developments, it could stay flat too. Unless the property is for a song at this point (which it likely is) I'd stay away from a business perspective if I'm Derek, we've seen many cases of overextending for casino owners that haven't worked out so well.

However having said all that I voted yes, but then again I'm a gambler.

Voted no. That place needs a wrecking ball, a simple "D on the Strip" cleaning and refurbishing of the same skeleton isn't going to do it. Fitz was a case of a healthy structure, young by Fremont Street standards, that had worn and beaten interiors that needed replacing. I think Riviera is going to need much more. And while it's total speculation on my part, you can't tell me a place with a dysfunctional rooftop pool doesn't have a structural issue or two that would be expensive to address.

Blow it up, buy the adjacent La Concha space, and start over. And to do all that, you're going to need somebody with Wynn or Adelson bankroll. But if it did happen, Derek could take the cash from that and continue his expansion in downtown.

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