Could the World Series of Poker be moving to the Las Vegas Strip? Some revelations over the last week have brought about plenty of speculation about the possible move in 2022.
So far, WSOP officials have remained tight-lipped about any plans to shift locations away from the Rio. But series owner Caesars Entertainment sold the property in 2019 for $516 million. That sale allowed for the series to continue at the property for two years.
It now seems the company is making plans for next year. The Strip now may be an option with reports of Bally’s and Paris co-hosting the annual festival.
Details on rumored move to Bally’s/Paris
News of a possible shift in WSOP location were first revealed last week on social media via the Valley National 8-ball League Association (VNEA). The group posted on the VNEA Facebook page that its World Championships would be moving from Bally’s to Westgate Las Vegas next year.
“VNEA’s long-term contract with Bally’s Hotel & Casino was suddenly canceled by Bally’s as a result of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) moving from Rio to the Bally’s/Paris properties in 2022 and beyond,” the group noted.
Considering those events are in the summer, that also seems to confirm that the WSOP will return to its traditional season for 2022. This year’s festivities were moved to the fall.
According to Caesars, the Rio has 160,000 square feet of convention space. The company has enough convention space at Bally’s (175,000 square feet) and Paris (140,000 square feet) to accommodate the poker festival.
The two properties are also connected and the additional size could accommodate future growth. Many players speculated the new Caesars Forum convention space might be the new home to the WSOP. Online Poker Report was the first to report the story and dispelled those rumors.
“Players speculating about the WSOP’s future have often gravitated towards the Caesars Forum as a possibility,” OPR noted. “Aside from being owned by the same parent company, it’s a nice new property and one of the few locations that would have the requisite space. However, it’s not set up to be used for gambling, and converting it temporarily for that purpose would be an additional expense.”
Opinions vary on WSOP location shift
A shift for the series obviously brought plenty of opinions among players. A move to the Strip may bring some extra cachet and visibility. Some players favored the move to the busy stretch of Las Vegas and think it’s good for the game.
“I have been saying for years that Bally’s is the perfect spot for this, although they would need to expand/rework the expo area to make it fit,” one player noted on Twitter. “Also have been saying that the WSOP brand is more valuable than the Bally’s name, and they should rebrand Bally’s as the WSOP Hotel.”
The WSOP moved from Binion’s Horseshoe to the Rio in 2005. Phil Hellmuth won nine bracelets at the Horseshoe before scoring another five at the Rio (another one also came in Europe). Hellmuth is one of those in favor of the move, but also had some personal reasons as well.
“I love the Rio,” he told USPoker. “But change is inevitable, and for me personally, it might be nice to have it across the street from Aria. I can walk in everyday.”
Some players reacted positively, viewing the central location on the Strip as easy access in the heart of Las Vegas. However, others see traffic issues for players heading to play on the Strip. Some players were concerned with an influx of tens of thousands of players to one concentrated area.
“Having all the foot traffic from right off the Strip is going to be a pain on dinner breaks and the like as well,” a player noted on Twitter.
With no official announcement from Caesars however, poker pro and writer Matt Matros provided some advice.
“They’ve been saying this for like 15 years,” he Tweeted. “Maybe it’s true this time … but I’ll believe it when I actually see it.”
* Photos courtesy Caesars Entertainment