What Happened in Vegas…Stayed in Vegas: The WWF’s Hotel and Casino

Brian Damage

There are many people in and out of the world of professional wrestling or “sports entertainment” who would consider Vincent Kennedy McMahon somewhat crazy. They felt that way when McMahon wanted to to nationally expand the then World Wrestling Federation in the 1980’s. Vince McMahon proved them wrong. Not only did he expand nationally, but he went global. People thought Vince was crazy when he wanted to take the WWE public on the stock exchange. McMahon proved them wrong and is now a billionaire.

He wanted to start his own network and people scoffed at him. It has thus far proven to be a success and other wrestling companies have followed his model. With every success that the McMahons have had, they did have their fair share of failures. They tried to get into the restaurant business and failed. They tried getting into the bodybuilding business and failed. He attempted to get into the boxing business and faltered. He tried to start his own football league and that failed, although (as of this writing) he is giving it a second try. The McMahon family has been known to take some pretty daring endeavors. Some have worked and some have failed.

In August 1998, Vince and the WWF were ready to take a serious gamble (Literally) when they tried to get into the hotel business. During this time, the WWF was hotter than it had ever been before. Revenues, television ratings and pay per view buy rates were sky high. They were consistently beating their top competition WCW almost each and every week. So why not attempt something to try and expand his brand even further?

In a surprise move, the WWF’s parent company, Titan Sports, won an auction to buy the Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. They paid just a bit over 10 million dollars for the property. The former owner of the hotel…the late actress/singer Debbie Reynolds…was saddened by the WWF’s purchase of her hotel and casino. Initially, it was reported that she was hoping to stay on as an act for the new ownership group…but felt that the WWF brand just wouldn’t fit with her or them.

Vince McMahon, always the promoter…was truly thrilled with this acquisition and hyped the future WWF Hotel and Casino as the benchmark of how hotels and casinos would be thought of in Las Vegas. They even had a slogan for the endeavor…“Cause Life is One Big Crapshoot.” Indeed it was because this was entirely new terrain for Vince to venture into.

Computer generated images of what the WWF hotel would look like were displayed for all to see. Ten million seemed such a paltry figure to spend to create a new, dynamic and innovative hotel and casino. There was a good reason for that. The location wasn’t located on the Vegas strip. That is where all the action was. It was off on its own and in this business…location, location, location was everything. Vince’s wife Linda McMahon said that while they were excited about the project initially, the costs and burdens of running a hotel just wasn’t there for them. She said, “Do what you know and understand, and do it passionately, the casino business must be in your blood.”

Needless to say, the hotel/casino business wasn’t coursing through the McMahons veins. That and the thought of dumping millions into a potential money pit, scared off the McMahon family. The WWF Hotel and Casino was indeed a gamble that they just wouldn’t risk. The property was eventually sold to the Clarion group and they remained in business until 2015. The site has since been demolished and is now a parking lot. While many people will criticize Vince McMahon for being daring and taking risks…you must admire his guts to take those risks through his life and career. It has made him what he is today.

Here’s a video package that the WWF put together hyping their hotel and casino in 1999…….

19 thoughts on “What Happened in Vegas…Stayed in Vegas: The WWF’s Hotel and Casino

  1. I’m curious, since he’s hella rich now, if Vince would ever be tempted to try this one again if and when the XFL part deux fails.

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  2. man I think this might work, if it was on the strip and also used as a physical location for the WWE hall of fame, add a small arena to host NXT weekly plus some network specials.

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  3. Ahhh 1998, the awkward “Attitude scratch logo over Hogan era block logo” era, when the turnbuckle pads were still the Hogan era logo but everything else had the Attitude logo.

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