There was a somber feeling in the air on Monday as The Riviera, a 60-year staple of the Las Vegas Strip, closed its doors for the last time at noon. But for the slot machines and tables games within, Las Vegas casino owner Derek Stevens will ensure their fate doesn’t come to an end so soon.
Stevens, who owns and operates The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate Casino, both located on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, has purchased every piece of gaming equipment up for sale from the recently closed Riviera. All told, Stevens purchased 852 slots machines, 4 roulette wheels and whatever spare parts were available.
Stevens said he’ll be adding 8-10 slots at a time to both of his Las Vegas casinos, and that the first installment will be available before Memorial Day. Eventually, Stevens plans for more than 300 of the gaming devices to be installed between The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate Casino.
About 500 of the slot machines are destined for auction, according to the Las Vegas casino owner. A private auction has already been scheduled for the end of June. Due to restrictions on ownership of modern gambling devices in Nevada, only licensed gaming operators will be permitted to participate in the auction.
In a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Stevens said, “We have a pretty large warehouse and we’re going to be moving everything into our systems.”
He declined to comment on how much he paid for the full lot of gaming equipment, but on Tuesday morning, not quite 24 hours after The Riviera shut down, he had a crew loading the slot machines up for transport to the warehouse.
“It was very straightforward,” said Stevens when asked about the purchase. As for his interest in the slot machines and other equipment, he stated, “We wanted to increase our spare parts inventory and get some new equipment.”
The Las Vegas casino owner went on to explain that not all of The Riviera’s slot machines were available for purchase. An untold number of them were being leased by the casino, particularly the machines that carry a networked progressive jackpot like Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune. Those machines were delivered back to their original distributor, IGT.
Closure of The Riviera marks End of an Era
When the Riviera opened in 1955, it became the first high-rise resort to grace the Las Vegas Strip. Success was instant, not just because the destination was first in its class, but because The Riviera opened with Liberace as its inaugural headliner. The all-star acts continued for years to come.
The Las Vegas Casino featured the most famous performers of the time, including Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and the entire Rat Pack, among others.
In the late 1990’s, ‘The Riv’ began to lose its glamour as other resorts came to the Strip, offering bigger, brighter and more brilliant venues. The Riviera’s ability to compete was diminishing fast, despite the esteemed efforts of organizers whose last hurrah was the topless ‘Crazy Girls’ show.
But alas, The Riviera joins other once-famous Las Vegas casinos like The Sahara and The Sands, whose memories are immortalized in the rich history of the Strip. Purchased for $182.5 million by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in February, The Riviera will soon become yet another convention center complex.