Sooner or later, everything will come to an end. That is just a natural part of life. It is also the fate of the Riviera Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. On June 14, 2016 the 24-story Monaco Tower of the Riviera was imploded. The second phase of the Riviera’s implosion will take place sometime in August of 2016. This is when the Monte Carlo tower will be taken down.
The demise of the Riviera is heartbreaking for many residents and tourists who visited this gaming institution over the past 60 years. The Riviera had a colorful history with a somewhat checkered past. Even though the hotel/casino was founded by some rather shady characters; it still remained one of the favorite places to visit for many people who enjoyed gambling.
William Bischoff was a former mobster from Detroit. In 1952 he proposed to build a hotel/casino in the area of Las Vegas. He called this building the Casa Blanca and received a license to run his operation. By 1955 he turned over control of the Casa Blanca to Samuel Cohen who was a businessman from Miami. Soon, Cohen stepped down from running the operation and left control to an investment group who managed the gaming facility.
In 1955 the Casa Blanca was renamed to the Riviera and it opened its door as a hotel and casino. It was the first high-rise and resort on the Las Vegas strip. The high rise design was the first of its kind in Las Vegas and it quickly became a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. However, the Riviera closed its door within 3 months of opening.
The resort went bankrupt because of all of the competition in the area. There were just too many hotels along the Las Vegas strip at the time and it prevented the Riviera from making a profit.
A group of Flamingo Hotel managers then took over the resort. Many people speculated at the time (but did not have proof) that the Flamingo Hotel managers were being intimidated by Chicago mob bosses to run the Riviera. Apparently, one of the Flamingo Hotel managers was a mob informant who ended up dying shortly after the Riviera had been acquired. The Flamingo Management group’s leader Gus Greenbaum was murdered with his wife after it was discovered the two were embezzling money from the casino.
A mobster known as Sydney Korshak took over the operations of the casino and sent money back to mob bosses in Chicago. The police knew about him and suspected what he was up to but did not have proof to shut down his operation. The Riviera switched owners again in 1968. Bankers E. Parry Thomas and Jerome Mack and investors tied to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp. both owned and operated the casino.
By 1983 the casino went bankrupt for the second time. The Riviera filed for bankruptcy. However, a former movie producer and businessman named Meshulam Riklis filed took over control of the hotel and changed its appeal toward middle-class tourists. Riklis even inserted a Burger King inside of the casino making the Riviera the first of its kind to do so. This move helped to revitalize the casino for many years until 1991. The hotel went bankrupt once again due to over expansion.
A couple of years later, the Riviera Holdings Corp purchased the hotel. From 1993 to 2010 the Riviera enjoyed nearly 20 years of stability. However, the casino folded in 2010 and had to file for bankruptcy for the fourth time. Groups in the area tried to bring the Riviera back from its demise but they could not.
The Riviera had become unpopular. A lot of the existing casino and gaming facilities surrounding the Riviera had went away and when they did, the Riviera started to lose more business. A lot of these places were being cleared away to make room for newer facilities. The Riviera could no longer stand on its own and on May 4, 2015 the Riviera closed its door for the last time.
A leading aerial company in Las Vegas named Sundance Helicopters provided overhead flights of the Riviera’s implosion back in June. They will also make flights available for people who wants to witness the former hotel’s implosion this coming August. Keep in mind that the overhead flights are going to be auctioned off on Ebay. So, the price to see this event from a helicopter could be extremely high.
However, this is going to be a historic event and many consider the expense would be justified. Once the second half of the hotel is destroyed, the area will then be used as a part of an expansion project for the Las Vegas Convention Center.