Nevada Poker Tables Continue Folding Across Silver State, Casino Revenue Falls in February

Posted on: March 29, 2017, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: March 29, 2017, 01:47h.

The total number of Nevada poker tables will shrink once again when the Monte Carlo closes its poker room on April 25 as part of a $450 million renovation that will eliminate the card game from the resort.

It’s just the latest telling sign that poker doesn’t come with the same allure it once did.

Nevada poker tables casino revenue
Nevada poker tables continue to disappear from floors, as casino operators struggle to justify the revenue they produce compared to other gambling formats like slots and blackjack. (Image: The Linq)

Over the last 10 years, the number of Nevada poker tables has decreased by almost 30 percent.   

Poker’s heyday came after Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003 on an $86 satellite entry. His $2.5 million win revolutionized the card game and exploded its worldwide appeal.

Moneymaker outplayed 838 other entrants during his historic win. The following year, the prize was doubled and the total field eclipsed 2,500. The tournament continued growing, and with it, casinos in Vegas modified their gaming floors to accommodate the influx of dreamers looking to make it rich and wannabe poker pros.

Across the state, there were 907 poker tables in 2007. Now a decade later, that number will be reduced to just 653 when the Monte Carlo closes its room.

Money Matters

Of course, each square foot of a casino floor is valuable real estate. Since poker isn’t necessarily a highly profitable game for operators as they’re only taking fees for hosting the games, if the seats aren’t staying occupied, the tables aren’t going to last.

In 2016, Nevada casinos collected $118 million on 661 tables. That equates to each table pulling in about $178,500 if revenues were distributed equally (which of course they’re not).

By comparison, the average slot machine in Nevada generated nearly $50,000 in win for casinos over the last 12 months. Four slot machines take up less space than a poker table, and don’t require a dealer.

Revenue Retracts, Visitors Vanish

Nevada casino revenue dropped in February by roughly 4.5 percent year-over-year, as the state’s 327 gaming locations pulled in $945.6 million in earnings. But 2016’s Leap Year provides an explanation for part of the loss, as analysts rationalized that the additional day last February accounted for about three percent of the decline.

Gaming on the Las Vegas Strip was also down to the tune of five percent to $541.9 million. But Downtown Las Vegas continued its strong run, as income rose over two percent. Revenue there is up 10 percent over the last three months.

The Boulder Strip and North Las Vegas were the biggest losers, as revenue plummeted nine and seven percent, respectively.

Perhaps more concerning than that 1.5 percent statewide gaming drop (adjusted for the Leap Year calculation) is the fact that the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced this week that visitation fell 5.5 percent in February 2017. That marks the biggest drop since June of 2009.

While gaming is up nearly five percent year-to-date in Clark County, visitor volume is down 2.2 percent in the first two months of 2017. It’s still early in the year, but certainly enough reason for some concern in Sin City.