Fiery End for Riviera Casino

A perfectly executed implosion marked the end of the former Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, as its 24-story Monaco tower came down early in the morning on June 14. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is razing the casino to make room for an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas soon will be a memory after its tallest tower came down last week and the rest will be gone by summer’s end.

The casino’s 24-story Monaco Tower came down around 2:30 a.m. on June 14, following a fireworks show, followed by the rumblings of demolitions explosions, and the tower’s collapse.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) bought the casino for some $190 million and closed it in May 2015. The LVCVA is razing it to make way for an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the development of its Global Business District.

LVCVA President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter presided over a viewing party held in the convention center’s parking lot across the street from the Riviera. Former Nevada Governor Bob Miller was among those attending.

The Cordell Group was in charge of the demolition and said it went exactly as planned.

The Riviera opened in 1955, at a time when many casinos and their owners and operators had connections to the mob.

With its demolition, only the Tropicana has any remaining structural elements built during the time when organized crime had a significant amount of control over Las Vegas and its casinos.

At one time, the Riviera was a cash cow for Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana and his outfit, Geoff Schumacher of the Mob Museum in Las Vegas told the Associated Press.

It was among several Las Vegas casinos eventually targeted by federal investigators for money laundering and other criminal activities during the 1970s and 1980s.

The skim was the most lucrative illegal activity, in which mob members removed about 10 percent of proceeds from casino cash counting rooms over a period of about 20 years.

Several popular movies helped to boost the Riviera’s prestige, including Ocean’s 11 in 1960, Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, Casino in 1995, and The Hangover in 2009.

Liberace was the Riviera’s first headlining act, and Rat Pack member Dean Martin was a part owner while performing there under an exclusive residency contract.

The Riviera’s forays into world-class entertainment helped to develop the business model that made Las Vegas the world’s entertainment capital.

The LVCVA is spending $42 million to level the property and its 13 structures, which contain asbestos and are being taken down gradually to minimize any potential environmental harm.

The resort’s remaining hotel tower is to be imploded in August.