Nevada regulators issue preliminary licenses for Rio, Fontainebleau renovation projects

July 13, 2023
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These are subject to final approval by the state Gaming Commission.

Regulators in Nevada recently awarded preliminary approvals to two Las Vegas casinos, according to a local report in the Nevada Independent. The Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended approved licensing for Rio Casino & Hotel, located off the Strip and owned and operated by New York-based Dreamscape Cos.

Regulators also recommended Fontainebleau Las Vegas for licensing as part of a separate action. Both preliminary licenses were granted within 90 minutes, according to the local report.

Final approval for both recommendations is pending a decision by the Nevada Gaming Commission, which is scheduled to meet at the end of the month.

Once approved, Rio’s new owners will have the green light to start a $350m and 18-month renovation project. Construction on the 33-year-old property is scheduled to start next month and would involve a property-wide overhaul, including both casino and restaurant operations, according to Dreamscape CEO Eric Birnbaum.

Dreamscape acquired Rio at the end 2019 from Caesars Entertainment for $516.3m. As part of the deal, Dreamscape leased its operations back to Caesars for a four-year term while the company prepared its renovation plans.

However, the process for Fontainebleau to get up running is not as cut and dry. Fontainebleau owners will need an additional hearing so that gaming regulators can grant final approval prior to the venue’s December opening on the North Strip.

According to the Independent’s report, Chairman Kirk Hendrick addressed Fontainebleau executives Jeffrey Soffer and Brett Mufson during a 30-minute hearing, acknowledging their “helpful” presentation but asking to return at a later date.

“We look forward to you being back in front of the Board when it's time for your actual application,” Hendrick said.


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