Riviera bringing bingo back to the Strip

As it tries to show renewed life after a bout with bankruptcy, the Riviera will turn to an attraction that the Strip has given up for dead: bingo.

Although widely spread among locals properties, bingo posted its last number in the heart of Las Vegas’ tourist zone when the New Frontier closed four years ago. Since then, no one has stepped in to fill the vacuum.

The new ownership and management at the Riviera have launched several projects in its public areas since exiting Chapter 11 on April 1. But most are standard fare for refreshing a resort, such as revamping the food outlets, updating the sports book and adding slot machines.

Constructing a bingo room, however, will set the Riviera apart when it opens Aug. 12.

“Bingo has changed over the years,” said bingo room manager Bobby Taylor, who came to the Riviera four months ago after at decade at the Plaza. “It is no longer just a loss leader.”

A major change has come in the form of quarterly jackpot sessions, with a promised payout of $200,000 over two days.

“The demographic has gotten younger with the big games,” he said, with the average age down to 45-55 from the ’60s.

Perhaps as important, big-game profits cover losses in slower times so that the room is projected to break even overall, according to Taylor.

The Strip turned its back on bingo years ago, said Freddie Maatouk, vice president of gaming operations at PlayLV Gaming Operations, because resort owners considered bingo a revenue laggard, particular as electronic games proliferated. Compounding that, bingo rooms take up hundreds or thousands of square feet.

The Riviera’s room will cover 6,000 square feet in what was a rarely used meeting room. The big games will move to a ballroom that can seat 1,800.

Further, the stereotypical demographic did not excite the marketing departments.

“The image of a bingo player is a woman 55 or older, with her hair in curlers, smoking and drinking coffee from a Styrofoam cup,” said Lou Hilford, a principal in Loudon Consultants in Vancouver, B.C.

But adding electronics to bingo instead of just daubing a card has brought in men in their 20s through 40s, said Hilford, literally changing the makeup of the players. The Riviera’s room will give players a choice of fixed monitors or hand-held devices .

“We see a wide range of people in our bingo, not just gray-haired ladies,” Maatouk said.

PlayLV has the only bingo downtown, currently in a temporary room at Las Vegas Club but it will soon move to the renovated Plaza.

In fact, he said, the Plaza will reopen its casino on Aug. 24 with a $150,000 bingo tournament, with all 1,000 spots already spoken for and a waiting list that has grown to 160, he said.

“For us, bingo players have the perfect profile,” he said, because they will often play slots as well.

Still, the changing appeal of the game has not made it foolproof. Nearby Binion’s opened a bingo area in February, only to shut it down about four months later.

Binion’s management could not be reached for comment. Although Taylor believes their room at 125 seats, was too small.

The Riviera “also might be trying to reach locals,” said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The hotel projects that about one-fourth of its players will be residents with the rest tourists.

In documents filed in the bankruptcy case, Riviera management noted that the depressed state of the north Strip area that surrounds it has deterred pedestrian traffic and made it difficult to boost revenues through methods such as higher room rates.

During the first quarter, when it was still in Chapter 11, the Riviera posted a 1 percent gain in revenues to $20.7 million, but operating income fell by nearly half to $779,000. By contrast, the Riviera Black Hawk in Colorado, the other property owned by Riviera Holdings, posted operating income of $2.6 million on just $10 million in revenues.

The bingo room is perhaps the most visible piece yet of the strategy to turn around the Riviera, which opened in 1955 as the Strip’s first high-rise.

“We are reconnecting with the public as a fun place to go,” said Noah Acres, senior vice president of product development. “We want people to know, the Riviera is back.”

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at toreiley@review
journal.com or 702-387-5290.

MGM Grand Plans To Add Retail And Dining To Its Strip Facade
MGM Grand President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Sibella said executives are “discussing redeveloping that entire frontage of the building out to the Las Vegas Strip.” (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Boyd Gaming planning new corporate campus
Casino operator Boyd Gaming Corp. has filed plans to build a new corporate campus. The plans call for two 10-story office buildings and a six-level parking garage in the southwest Las Vegas Valley. Boyd Gaming operates The Orleans, the Suncoast, downtown's California Hotel and other properties. The new headquarters would be just a mile from its current main office building.
Bellagio Conservatory transformed to celebrate Year of the Pig
The Bellagio Conservatory Team transformed the 14,000 square foot conservatory to commemorate Chinese New Year, the holiday that marks the end of the coldest days of winter. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Intro uses sound to connect people
Intro, a startup that is part of the Future Worlds Accelerator in the UK, has an app that uses ultrasonic sound to find people and companies nearby.
CES 2019 Video: CES wraps up another year
Time-lapse video of the action at CES 2019 in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Create your own beauty products
Beauty Mix by BeautyByMe is a product that lets you create your own cosmetics and beauty products. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Picobrew’s home brew machine
Picobrew brings automation to homebrewing. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Surviving CES
What it's like to spend four days working the mammoth tech convention. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Haier’s smart home
Haier presented smart home technology at CES 2019.
CES 2019 VIDEO: Foldimate makes laundry day easy
Foldimate has created a machine that will fold your laundry for you. Just feed it anything you need folded and it will do the rest. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Opte device corrects skin spots
Opte from Proctor and Gamble is a device for correcting spots and freckles from skin. It analyzes the area for spots and then covers them with a serum of matching skin tone. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Circa hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas unveiled
Derek Stevens reveals Circa hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas. He plans open by the end of 2020. (K.M Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Circa, new casino coming to Fremont Street
Casino owner Derek Stevens announces his new property Circa, coming to Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas in late 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dreenk My Oeno makes wine suggestions
At CES 2019 in Las Vegas, the Dreenk My Oeno tells you all about wine.
Polaroid One Step Plus camera unveiled at CES 2019
Polaroid has moved into the digital age with its One Step Plus camera with Bluetooth. With the connected app, it turns your smartphone into a remote for the camera, along with filters and features.
Amazon is everywhere at CES 2019 in Las Vegas
Seemingly everything works with Amazon Alexa
LG Smart Mirror helps you dress snazzy
LG’s Smart Mirror is less of a mirror but more of an assistant to help get you looking snazzy. It takes your image and recommends clothes for you or matches existing clothes with new clothes, which can be purchased right from the mirror. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Underwater robots make waves at CES 2019 in Las Vegas
Robosea is a company dedicated to underwater robotics. They produce consumer robots for underwater filming as well as commercial products which can be used for underwater research. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019 - Victrola record players spin in Las Vegas
A new spin on an old favorite, Victrola record players are meeting a demand for retro products. The brand is also making furnitures with built-in speakers.
CES 2019: Slamtec robots ready to serve
Slamtec is a robotics company out of China whose goal is to provide solutions for laser localization mapping and navigation. They have created two autonomous robots that can be used in areas such as bars, restaurants and malls. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mixologiq drink maker appears at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.
This is the Mixologiq drink maker.
CES 2019: Veritable smart garden
Let’s face it; not all of us have green thumbs. And herbs are particularly difficult to grow, considering their constant need for sunshine. Enter the Veritable smart garden from Exky, which does it all for you. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas being sold to developer
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas is being sold to a developer, set to close in March. Bonnie Springs, west of Las Vegas off State Route 159 — next to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park — spans more than 60 acres and was on the market for $31 million. The developer and his project partner are under contract to buy the ranch and plan to chop it up mostly into custom-home lots. The plans includes a 25-room motel, a restaurant and a 5,400-square-foot event barn.
Bone-conduction headphones form Aftershokz
Aftershokz offers bone-conduction headphones - headphones that don’t go in the ear.
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Autonomous Cars and Futuristic Aircraft Rule CES
Day two of CES was dominated by autonomous cars and futuristic aircraft in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
TekNekSavr fights neck problems caused by smart phones
Atiya Syverson invented the TekNekSavr to help fight neck and head problems caused by strains while typing on smart phones. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New eyeglasses know if you fall and call for help
The French company Abeye has created eye glasses that will detect if the wearer falls and call for help. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Company that creates vibrator-like device claims genders bias against CES
Lora DiCarlo is a women-run start-up that creates a vibrator-like device designed for female pleasure called the Osé. This year they were awarded the CES Innovation Award in the Robotics and Drone Category, but a month later the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, rescinded the award and their booth. Haddock and her team believe it is a reflection of gender bias and sexism in an industry with a long history of male domination.
CES-Wagz has new pet products
Wagz has three new products to help create better lives for your pets in a digital world. One is a collar with LTE tracking and an HD camera. Also a smart pet door that only lets your pet in and out. Lastly, a device to humanely keep Fluffy out of certain areas of your home. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like