What Revenue Does The WSOP Bring To Vegas?
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 Vegas.
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 bankrolls.
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 there.
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 case.
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 it.
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 pretty quiet.
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 appear.
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 Vegas.
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.