Unlike casino traffic, the best months for poker occur during the dog days of summer, from the end of May to mid-July. That’s when thousands of poker players swarm to Las Vegas to take part in the World Series of Poker.
The normal number of poker tables (between 586 and 600 in 2017) can’t accommodate this influx of players. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that by the end of May, Nevada poker rooms had already added 138 tables in preparation for the 2017 WSOP. This is according to the latest Nevada Gaming Control Board monthly gaming revenue report.
The WSOP bump focused almost exclusively on one area of the state, the Las Vegas Strip. Nearly all of the new tables (93 percent of them) were added at Las Vegas Strip casinos.
Top line numbers
The NGCB counted 62 poker rooms and 724 tables in May. That’s compared to 64 poker rooms and 586 poker tables in April.
In May 2016, Nevada featured 67 poker rooms and 755 tables.
The year-over-year numbers represent a 7.5 percent decline in poker rooms, but only a four percent decline in poker tables. Taking this a step further, the average size of the state’s poker rooms increased from 11.2 tables to 11.7 tables year-over-year.
Statewide poker revenue was $8,917,000 in May 2017; an increase of .4 percent compared to May 2016, when the state’s poker rooms generated $8,883,000 in revenue.
So, even though there are fewer rooms and tables compared to May 2016, poker revenue increased.
May’s poker revenue numbers are pretty much in line with the numbers Nevada’s poker rooms produced over the first four months of the year. That should change next month.
The tables have already been added, but since the WSOP didn’t get underway until May 31, the WSOP revenue bump won’t show up until June’s report.
WSOP leads to bigger poker rooms
As forecasted in last month’s report, the WSOP is going to cause a spike in poker numbers from now through July.
- January 2017: 65 poker rooms and 596 poker tables
- February 2017: 67 poker rooms and 600 poker tables
- March 2017: 66 poker rooms and 596 poker tables
- April 2017: 64 poker rooms and 586 poker tables
- May 2017: 62 poker rooms and 724 poker tables
Poker in Clark County
Clark County (which includes Las Vegas) lost another poker room in May, dropping the number of card rooms to 38.
However, because of the WSOP, over 100 poker tables were added during the month; 128 to put an exact number on it. Every single one of those tables was added on the Las Vegas Strip. Clark County now boasts 599 of the state’s 724 poker tables, which works out to 83 percent.
Revenue-wise, Clark County generated 91 percent of all poker revenue in May. The percentage of poker revenue coming from Clark County will spike during June and July, when those 138 extra tables get put to use.
Poker on the Las Vegas Strip
As noted above, the Las Vegas Strip is the biggest beneficiary from the World Series of Poker.
Even though another room closed (leaving just 18 total rooms on The Strip) the number of poker tables on The Strip jumped from 270 in April to 398 in May, a 32 percent increase in the number of poker tables. That’s an average of over seven new tables per room.
The other 44 card rooms in Nevada added a total of 10 poker tables in May.
The UNLV Center for Gaming Research released a report on monthly poker revenue from 2004-2017, offering a historical view of poker revenue in Nevada.
UNLV pointed out the following trends in poker revenue:
- January 2004 to May 2005, monthly win averaged $9.0 million
- June 2005 to July 2006, monthly win averaged $13.0 million
- August 2006 to June 2007, monthly win averaged $13.9 million
- July 2007 to July 2008, monthly win averaged $13.6 million
- August 2008 to February 2011, monthly win averaged $11.7 million
- March 2011 to December 2014, monthly win averaged $13.0 million.
- January 2015 to June 2017 monthly win averaged $9.7 million
The report also singled out the WSOP bump:
“… dozens of tables appear for 2-3 month periods in the summer, then disappear again. These fluctuations are primarily caused by the addition of tables at the Rio during the World Series of Poker: to accommodate cash games, the casino creates an overflow poker room in a ballroom adjacent to the WSOP tournament games.”
The full report can be found here.
Nevada poker rooms by the numbers
The largest poker rooms in Las Vegas remain unchanged, and as expected, the Strip dominates:
- Venetian (The Strip) – 37 poker tables
- Bellagio (The Strip) – 37 poker tables
- Orleans (Las Vegas off-strip)- 35 poker tables
- Wynn (The Strip) – 28 poker tables
- Aria (The Strip) – 24 poker tables
- South Point Casino (Henderson) – 22 poker tables
- Green Valley Ranch Casino (Henderson) – 22 poker tables
- Red Rock Casino (Summerlin) – 20 tables
Historical data and trends of poker in Nevada
Here’s a look at several key poker metrics from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, which has been tracking the number of poker rooms, tables and revenue since 1992:
|Year||# of Rooms||# of Tables||Total Revenue||% Change YoY|
credit: trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com