The annual World Series of Poker kicks off Tuesday at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino, is responsible for driving a growing portion of annual poker revenue in Las Vegas. The World Series of Poker has run during the entire month of June since 2007, which was the height of the poker boom in Nevada in terms of market size ($167.9 million in cash game revenue).
In June 2007, poker cash game revenue on or around the Las Vegas strip was $11.86 million, 12.2 percent of Strip poker revenue during the calendar year ($97.1 million). In June 2016, Strip area poker rooms raked $12.93 million, an all-time high for the month. It was 16.5 percent of Strip revenue for the entire year ($78 million).
The record June for poker in Las Vegas came despite statewide 2016 revenue of $117.7 million being the lowest since 2004’s $98.8 million. In other words, the busy season for Las Vegas poker is arguably more important than ever for the Silver State industry.
There were 423 Strip area poker tables in operation in June 2016, down 7.8 percent from 459 tables a decade earlier. More than 100 cash game tables are added to the poker supply during the summer. There will be 18 Strip area poker rooms when the Luxor closes its room on June 18, down from the 27 that were in operation in 2007.
As for the WSOP itself, the festival has grown to cater to the demand for poker during the summer. The 2007 World Series of Poker had 54,288 entrants from 55 bracelet events. Last year, there were 107,833 entrants from 69 bracelet events, both all-time highs. There are 74 bracelet events on the schedule this year, and the WSOP will likely set another participation record.
A total of $159,796,918 in prize money was awarded during the 2007 World Series of Poker. Prize money has grown 38.4 percent since then to $221,211,336 last summer. The World Series of Poker is still one of the richest sporting events in the world.
The availability of poker across America—there are now casinos in some 40 states—has contributed to dwindling annual poker revenue in Nevada. But the World Series of Poker is still the center of the poker universe in the summer, and players travel from far and wide to play. The 2016 festival attracted players from 107 countries.
“The proliferation of casinos across the United States has decreased the need for players to travel to Nevada to play poker,” Michael Lawton.
Nevada launched online poker in 2013, but with a lack of liquidity those games haven’t been as robust as originally anticipated. Nevada’s online poker market is worth about $7 million a year.