Rivera Embraces Internet Bingo

The only bingo room on Las Vegas’s fabled strip is going online. The Riviera Hotel and Casino has partnered with Buffalo Studios the game company behind the popular Facebook game Bingo Blitz. Earlier in the year Bingo Blitz created controversy after accusing game developer Zynga of copying its popular game. The partnership is designed to help the Rivera to attract new players and expand into the world of virtual gaming. This week Bingo Blitz players will be able play internet bingo games on a page with an image of the Rivera. Players will be entered to win a free trip to attend one of the two $200,000 bingo tournaments.

Last year the Rivera brought bingo back to the Las Vegas strip in a bid to shore up the company’s troubled finances. In 2010 Riviera Holdings filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In August 2011 the Rivera sold its casino in Black Hawk Colorado for $76 million. The Rivera has been pressured by its isolated location on the strip. The Rivera is surrounded by vacant lots, low end shops and deteriorating properties which has discouraged walk in traffic. Riviera CEO Andy Choy told reporters “The property just kind of lost relevance. What we are really trying to do now to bring it out of bankruptcy is to make it relevant in today’s market place.”

The Rivera’s partnership with Bingo Blitz is designed to attract younger players to the company’s properties. In 2011 Bingo Blitz was the seventh most recommended game on Facebook. Players log in to win virtual coins and the Rivera is hoping that those virtual coins will translate into real money for the Rivera’s bingo hall. The Rivera’s superstar bingo tournament will feature 56 games that will take place over two days. The minimum game payout will be $3,000 and the cost to participate in the high stakes bingo tournament is $150. Salim Mitha, vice president of Buffalo Studios. Told reporters “Bingo has always been a very social game. You went to a bingo hall and played with people and we’ve been able to translate that online.”

The Rivera first opened in 1955 and has more than 800 slot machines and 2,075 rooms. Since the Rivera can’t compete with upscale resorts and casinos the Rivera is trying to appeal to tourists that want to save money and play bingo. David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said of the Rivera “Without a doubt the recession has been really tough on them. They are not going to get people who want to go to the best restaurant on the Strip or the people who want to go to a Cirque (du Soleil) show.” It remains to be seen whether the Rivera’s foray into internet bingo will be successful but at least they are trying to change with the times.