Las Vegas was built on the backs of the
gambling industry, and without casinos, it would not exist as we know it today.
Whatever your opinion of Sin City, there’s no denying that it truly is a
one-of-a-kind place that you won’t find anywhere else.
Poker is just a small part of the overall
sector and casinos were popular long before the rise of poker. That said, the
WSOP attracts tens of thousands of people to Las Vegas every year, and many of
them aren’t there just for the tournaments.
Those coming to Vegas will spend money on food,
accommodation, and entertainment, including different forms of gambling.
So, how important is the World Series of Poker
in the grand scheme of things, and what revenue does the WSOP bring to Vegas?
It’s not the easiest question to answer, but I’ll do my best.
How Much Money Do You
Need to Visit Vegas?
People coming to Vegas for the World Series of Poker are free to pick and choose what tournaments they want to play in.
In every tournament, there is a rake between 5 and 10 percent, so that alone represents a big revenue boost for Rio and the WSOP.
For example, in 2019, the WSOP profited more than $5.1 million from the Main Event alone. Some of the money went to the dealers, while the rest went to the casino.
So, clearly, the Series brings in a lot of money straight from the buy-ins, and these go to just one venue.
But there is much more to consider when
thinking about the importance of the WSOP for Las Vegas.
The Series draws in tens of thousands of people
from all over the world every year. Over six weeks, they spend their time and
money in Vegas, which must be a big boost for the city’s economy.
The city conducts regular surveys to gauge how
much an average visitor spends on things like food and entertainment, and the
latest numbers are from 2019.
According to the latest survey, an average person will spend:
$21 a day on entertainment $93 a day on food$318 a day on gambling
So, the average person visiting Las Vegas for a
week to play some WSOP tournaments might spend around $3,000 “on the side.”
This isn’t even accounting for nights out, which can get quite expensive in
Sure, you can get drinks for free at the casinos, but if you want to visit clubs you’ll soon run up a big tab.
Of course, this isn’t an exact science because
many players coming to the city specifically for the WSOP might look to budget
their expenses and stay away from the gaming tables to preserve their
Still, many of those visiting during the period
will be looking to make the most out of their time and won’t be afraid to spend
some extra cash.
After all, it’s not every day you get to spend time
in a city that offers crazy action around the clock.
Also, people coming for the World Series will
try to spend as much time as they can in the city. The schedule is always
jam-packed with tournaments, so it really doesn’t make much sense to just come
for a few days.
This is especially true for those coming from
Europe or Asia, as their travel expenses are high.
So, the city of Las Vegas might profit anywhere
from $2,000-5,000 on average per visitor for every seven days they spend
Given the World Series of Poker usually lasts
for about six weeks and tens of thousands of people come in and out, it’s quite
a bit of money to go around.
Las Vegas Hotels
Obviously, all these people coming to Vegas
need somewhere to stay.
Serious grinders who intend to stay for the entire
duration will look into private accommodation options and usually rent a nice
house where they’ll stay for a few weeks.
An average visitor who’s only planning to spend
a week or two, though, will most likely end up booking a hotel, and that’s
another massive source of revenue for Las Vegas.
Of course, prices vary greatly, depending on
the quality of the hotel and how close it is to the Strip. They start at around
$60 per night and go up to $200 if we disregard extravagant options.
From this, we can see that an average visitor
will spend about $120 per day on accommodation and probably around $750-800 per
visit if they’re staying for a week.
Multiply that number with something like 20,000
or 30,000, and you get a pretty big number, even by Vegas standards.
What Would These
Numbers Look Like Without The WSOP?
One might think that Las Vegas is such a
popular destination that even without the World Series, there would still be
many visitors, and the city wouldn’t suffer much in terms of profits.
While it’s impossible to say for sure, as the
World Series has been happening for over 50 years, this probably isn’t the
Vegas is definitely a magic place in so many
ways, but the climate isn’t an item on that list.
If you’ve ever visited during the summer months,
you know that the heat is often unbearable outside, and people look for places
to hide from high temperatures. Life without AC is pretty much intolerable.
So, given an option, people would much rather
plan their WSOP trip for spring or autumn, when the climate is much better. All
things being equal, why would you subject yourself to such an ordeal?
But with the WSOP taking place in June and July
(usually), those who enjoy poker don’t have that luxury.
If they want to be a part of the biggest yearly
poker event, they have to visit during the summer. There’s simply no way around
Is this something that people in Vegas actually
thought about when organizing the World Series, or did it just happen by
accident? Who knows.
But the fact remains that the Series brings in
a huge number of visitors to the city during a period that would otherwise be
Plus, the WSOP offers something for those who don’t care too much about general gambling.
And, of course, those visiting for poker will
still spend a lot of money on other stuff, like eating out, visiting different
shows, clubbing, and more.
So, there is no denying that the World Series
of Poker has done a lot for the Vegas economy and will continue to do so in the
future. That’s why the cancellation of pretty much all live poker events in
2020, including the WSOP, was a pretty hard blow.
Comparing 2020 to the last few years, Las Vegas
saw a huge drop in visitor numbers, which is hardly a surprise.
Ever since 2014, there were over 40 million
people visiting the city each year. In 2020, that number was 19 million.
One Of The Pillars Of
The Vegas Economy
At the end of the day, the World Series of
Poker plays an important role in the overall economy of Las Vegas. While it may
seem that the city is overflowing with money, things aren’t always what they
Running such an expensive and smoothly running
machine as Vegas takes a lot of money and a huge workforce behind the scenes.
The city has to keep things rolling at all times, and the money that comes in
goes out just as fast.
There are salaries to pay, taxes to cover, and
the costs of maintaining huge casinos are mind-blowing.
In that situation, the World Series of Poker has a very important role in maintaining the balance and ensuring the city gets enough action even during the quieter months.
Despite the heat, the number of visitors in Vegas in June and July remains steady, and it’s easy to imagine this wouldn’t be the case without the WSOP.
Being a place that heavily depends on tourism
and out-of-town visitors, Las Vegas is probably grateful that they have the
privilege of hosting the biggest yearly poker competition.
The direct revenue that WSOP players bring in
through paying rake and fees is just a small part of the picture. It’s a big
amount, but it pales in comparison to how much money is spent elsewhere in
From accommodation to shows and entertainment,
Las Vegas rakes in a lot of cash from those visiting for the WSOP, whether they
are there to play or simply accompany players.
Would Las Vegas survive without the World
Series of Poker? It most certainly would.
But if the WSOP were discontinued, the city
would certainly feel the sting as the revenues during those two crucial months
would dip quite significantly.