The Riviera (colloquially, "the Riv") is a hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Winchester, Nevada. The hotel has over 2,100 rooms, many located in a 23-story tower. The casino has 110,000 sq ft (10,000 m2) of gaming space.


The Riviera opened on April 20, 1955 as the first high-rise and the ninth resort on the Las Vegas Strip. The Riviera is one of the oldest and most famous casino resorts in Las Vegas. The Riviera also broke new ground in its design: previously, Strip resorts resembled roadside motor courts.

The opening of the Riviera, along with the Dunes and the Royal Nevada casino resorts within a month were the subject of a famous issue of Life Magazine, on June 20, 1955 with a Moulin Rouge showgirl on its cover. The headline was Las Vegas—Is Boom Overextended? and a story about how Las Vegas had built too many hotel rooms to be profitable.

The Riviera was built by a group of investors from Miami. The resort has gone through many ownership changes over the years, including a period of control by owners linked to the Mafia (as was the case for many Vegas resorts in the 1960s and 1970s). Harpo Marx and Gummo Marx held minority interests at the opening. The Marx brothers also owned slightly under ten percent of the Hotel. It is said that Gummo talked his brother into putting money into the Hotel, for it would be a great place for him to perform. Harpo was easily sold. Dean Martin once held a minority ownership stake while he was a headliner in the showroom. Gus Greenbaum was brought into manage the Riviera in 1955. He had successfully managed the Flamingo Hotel after the death of Bugsy Siegel. However, Greenbaum's drug and gambling addictions led to his embezzling from the casino. In December 1958, Greenbaum and his wife were murdered in their Phoenix, Arizona home, reportedly on the orders of either Meyer Lansky or Tony Accardo.

Meshulam Riklis bought the Riviera in 1973 for $56 million. The hotel/casino filed bankruptcy in 1984 and then again in 1991, at which time Riklis lost ownership. Ownership was then acquired by Riviera Holdings Corp.

Liberace was the featured headliner at the resort's opening, and for many years afterward.

In 2006, Splash, a traditional Las Vegas revue, ended an extended run at the Riviera.

In 2009, An Evening at La Cage, featuring female impersonators including Frank Marino and his impersonation of Joan Rivers, ended one of the longest runs in Strip history.


On Monday, July 12, 2010, in Re: Riviera Holdings Corp, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas), No: 10-22910, Riviera Holdings Company, Incorporated, owners of the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Black Hawk, Colorado. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, together with a reorganization plan under which secured lenders, led by Greenwich-based Starwood Capital Group, would receive new debt and stock. The plan was negotiated with holders of 2/3 of the secured debt worth over $275 million, which included a $225 million term loan, unpaid interest and amounts owing on a swap agreement. Riviera Holdings Company listed assets and liabilities of $100 to $500 million each in the filing in Las Vegas Bankruptcy Court.

Under the terms of the agreement negotiated by Starwood Capital Group, the reorganization plan calls for secured lenders to receive a new $50 million loan plus 80% of the new stock. Lenders who provide $20 million in a so-called new money loan will receive 8 percent of the new stock plus warrants for another 10 percent. Creditors who provide a $10 million working capital loan are to receive 7 percent of the new stock. The last 5 percent of the new stock goes to the lenders in return for providing a backstop insuring availability fo the $30 million in loans. Existing Riviera shareholders received nothing.

The Riviera had lost $4.5 million on income of $30.8 million in the first quarter of 2010. The decline in popularity of the Riviera in Las Vegas was caused in major part by the decline of pedestrian foot traffic in the vicinity of the hotel casino. Previously, The Riviera was surrounded by The Stardust, The New Frontier and The Westward Ho, properties which were demolished to make room for new construction. A shutdown in the new construction in progress at the adjacent Fontainebleau Resort Las Vegas and Echelon Place contributed to the Riviera's downfall, but it could reverse, if and when those large construction projects are resumed and eventually completed later. In the meanwhile, business continues as usual at The Riviera in Las Vegas. There are 1300 employees in Las Vegas, Nevada, and 260 employees employed in Black Hawk, Colorado.

Film history

The Riviera is often chosen as a shooting location due to its history and recognition as a landmark. Portions of the following features were filmed at The Riviera:

  • Ocean's Eleven (1960)
  • Casino (1995)
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
  • Vegas Vacation (1997)
  • Go (1999)
  • 3000 Miles To Graceland (2001)
  • Crazy Girls Undercover (2008)
  • 21 (2008)
  • The Hangover (2009)

The majority of the television series Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling was shot in the Riviera Hotel during its four-year run and subsequent 1991 Pay Per View.

Crazy Girls

The resort has one long-running show:

  • Crazy Girls, a topless show. The performers for Crazy Girls, including deceased transgender showgirl Jahna Steele, are immortalized with a bronze sculpture at the front of the casino unveiled in 1997 with the phrase No "Ifs", "Ands" or.... The thong-clad buttocks on it have been worn to a shine by passers-by rubbing them. The sculpture is based on a promotional photo for the show. Riviera ads with the same photo used to appear on Vegas taxicabs, and it was restored for a shot in the film Domino. The Crazy Girls were the inspiration for the 2008 film Crazy Girls Undercover.
Other Shows
  • 'Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show' They were style with substance, swing with swagger and a non-stop party that everyone wanted access to. Now audiences can experience this critically acclaimed, hugely entertaining theatrical production which includes exciting new arrangements of the classic songs everyone knows and loves. In addition, audiences will hear original, never-before-heard songs written by the late, legendary songwriter, Ron Miller (“For Once In My Life”), and recorded voiceovers made exclusively for this show by Sandy Hackett’s father, the late, legendary comedian, Buddy Hackett. This show has moved from plenty of venues including the now closed Sahara Hotel and Casino. This shows in the Le Bistro Theater.
  • 'The Magic and Tigers of Rick Thomas ' In July 2011, the Rick Thomas theater will open in the Riviera to house the famed magician and his show. Rick Thomas comes from the now closed Sahara Hotel and Casino. Rick's website highlights his show featuring magic and tigers. http://www.rickthomas.com.
  • Starlight Theater, In June 2011 the Starlite theater reopened it's doors tailoring it's entertainment to an older crowd. Mary Wilson of the Supremes is the headliner through July 4th, 2011. The Village People and Gallagher are set to headline the theater in late 2011.

The hotel's other two venues are The Riviera Comedy Club and Le Bistro Theater, which feature several different recurring acts. Dr. Scott Lewis (Hypnotist)' performs every Monday evening at 9:00 PM in the Le Bistro Theater.

Previous Acts
  • Barbra and Frank: The Concert That Never Was (Barbara Streisand and Frank Sinatra impersonators). This show has now moved to the off strip Las Vegas Westin Casuarina.
  • Dao - The Asian Celebration, which according to the Riviera's website offers "acrobatics, dance and martial arts in fusion with stunning costumes, exquisite stage design and beautiful music... mind and body in motion". Closed.
  • ICE, an ice dancing show featuring Russian skaters. Was cancelled in early 2011.
  • Greg London's ICONS, September 2, 2010, according to Riviera President Bob Vanucci, the resort has secured Greg London starring in Greg London's ICONS which opened for previews June 17, 2010 with a Red Carpet Media event September 2, 2010. 2009 rewarded Greg London with two back to back adult contemporary radio hits, a Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Adult Contemporary Song, Best Entertainer in Nevada and Best Show in Northern, NV, recognition for being the longest running Casino Headliner in Reno, NV and a Best Impersonation credit by Rolling Stone contributing editor, David Wild for a unique pairing of Ozzy Osbourne and Kermit the Frog.. This show closed in June 2011 and now shows at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Pocket billiards (pool)

As of 2010, the Riviera has a near-monopoly on championship-level North American and international amateur pool (pocket billiards) tournaments held in the United States, aside from the Florida-based U.S. Amateur Championship. The hotel's convention center hosts the Billiard Congress of America,American Poolplayers Association,Valley National 8-Ball Association and American Cuesports Alliance pool leagues' annual international championships, and various related events. BCA has scheduled their 2011 and 2012 amateur championships at the Riviera, as well as the 2011 professional U.S. Open Ten-ball Championship. APA has publicly announced events at the Riv through August 28, 2010. However, VNEA announced in May 2010 that their event would move to Bally's, further down the Strip, in 2011 ACS has not yet posted 2011 event information to their website (as of June 13, 2010).

Building Activity

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