Archive for the ‘Casino Industry’ Category

Is Live Poker Dying for Good?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015


That is the number of live poker rooms that have been shut down in just over 2 years in the United States. The most recent victim is the room at the Linq Hotel & Casino.

Poker has been a mainstay of the modern casino since its inception, but it’s becoming a less important part over time. Are people losing interest in table games? Perhaps. But the problem likely runs deeper than that.

Poker Rooms Have Never Been Cash Cows

Poker rooms have never been incredibly profitable for casinos. Compared to slot machines or other traditional gambling activities, poker generates a pittance of revenue.

There’s really no way for the room to make a substantial profit considering that there are typically 30 hands or less dealt per hour at a live table. Add in the wages of the dealers (albeit small) and you aren’t left with much.

However, people used to go to casinos to play poker and stick around to play casino games. According to the extensive calculations by each of these 12 casinos, this added revenue isn’t worth the space that the poker room takes up.

What’s Killing Live Poker?

So if it’s not limited revenue that’s changed in recent years, what could it be?

The Commercialization of Poker

With the popularization of online poker came an increased interest in poker by the general public. TV shows were created (and heavily watched), and Americans signed up and played online at an incredible rate.

This didn’t hurt the casino industry for years, so the mere presence of online poker probably isn’t taking casino players away from the table. In fact, the two markets don’t overlap too much. Casino visitors are there to gamble, and they may or may not play back home.

Are People Burnt Out?

When something gets popular, it often gets overdone to the point that people’s interest simply burns out.

While there are a ton of televised tournaments and online training sites these days, online poker is still going strong. If anything suffered from player burnout, it would be online poker, not live.

The Remaining Possible Cause: The Economy

Digging below the surface reveals that the casino industry is in trouble. In 2014, casinos had revenues of just $2.7 billion. While that sounds like a lot, it’s only about half of revenues in 2006, which were $5.2 billion.

People still like to gamble, but the recession has hit everyone hard. It seems like a logical step to take that having less disposable income means that frivolous gambling and vacations would be the first expense to be cut out.

On the bright side, while it’s likely we haven’t seen the end of poker room closures, when the economy does finally rebound, it’s also likely that we will see many poker rooms spring back to life.

Poker is Coming to Crimea in a Big Way

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Russia is a country where gambling and online poker is in jeopardy, but there are some interesting proposals for the latest Russian acquisition, Crimea.

This is far from a politics blog so I will skimp on the political acquisition of Crimea by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and however questionable it may have been, it is now an interesting new area.

When Putin puts his mind to something, he usually gets what he wants, and recently he has drawn up a draft law to allow a new casino to be built and operated in Crimea

Now that the study about a new gambling zone in Crimea has shown encouraging potential, Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to present a draft law that will allow Crimea’s authorities to choose a location for a new casino.

For the economically torn nation, this could help a tremendous amount. There are international investors lining up to be involved in this project that is set to make over 10,000 jobs, a substantial boost for the weak regional economy. The starting date of the casino has not been names however, and could take a while before it is open to the public.

An interesting part of the design plan is that it is intended to be a major tourist attraction, and more than just a casino. The plan is for it to be a year-round resort, which is why major companies are interested in getting in on the ground floor. This casino plan extends far past just poker and casino games, and is intended to be the start of a revolution in the area.

Most casinos traditionally have some funding from a country’s government, but because of the substantial interest from outside investors, it’s likely that no government intervention will be needed. In fact over $1.5 billion has already been secured for the project.

Here’s where it gets exciting for poker players, the head of the Russian Association for the Development of the Gambling Industry, Samoil Binder, has recently said, “We will have to organize sports events like the world [poker] championship in Las Vegas.” More major tournaments to watch and play in can only be good for the global poker scene.

Russia has very few existing designated gambling zones, which would make a newly renovated Crimea a major attraction. The growth and development of the region will be exciting to watch in the years to come.

Schedule for World Series of Poker 2014 Revealed

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

The annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest poker event in the world. While it used to be exclusive to the poker elite decades ago, it has consistently expanded and improved to allow everyone interested in poker to play a part of it.

Many events are televised and have live updates online so you can follow along with tournament progress.

If you want to play yourself there are many options at your disposal. There are side games and smaller tournaments that operate throughout the summer at surrounding casinos with poker fans and tourists alike. One bonus is that most of the elite players are at the WSOP tournaments, so tables are often extra soft.

If you have the desire and bankroll to do so, you can enter an event yourself. The buy-ins range from $1,000 to $1 million which means there’s a tournament for every budget. If you have previous evidence of tournament success you can even look into getting staked by other players to reduce the cost and risk you take on.

Finally, on all the major online poker sites there are satellites that you can buy-in for for a small amount and have a chance to win a seat at a major tournament. Depending on the site you may win an all-inclusive package that includes travel and accommodation costs as well.

Tournament Details

world series of poker chips

Image via Flickr by Plutor

You can see the official schedule here, which outlines the summer schedule. There are 65 events in total that start on May 27th at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which is the 10th straight year it has been held at this venue.

While the tournament schedule is similar to last year, it has nonetheless been improved in small ways based on player feedback. Veteran WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel commented “We have tweaked our schedule and feel very good about the opportunities it presents poker players of all levels.”

The main event is the final tournament as usual, and is expected to have a $10 million grand prize for the winner. It is a 10 day tournament that pits all the best professionals and amateurs against each other.

Another highlight of the series is the ‘Big One for One Drop’ tournament with the million dollar buy-in. This tournament is limited to 60 people and will have a grand prize of $20 million.

You can pre-register on the WSOP site or wait until live registration begins at the casino on March 1st.

Caesars CEO Calls for Legalized Online Poker

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Fortune magazine recently published an article online authored by Caesars CEO Gary Loveman in which he calls for legalized online poker at a federal level in the United States. Caesars Entertainment, formerly known as Harrah’s, are the owners and operators of the World Series of Poker.

In the article, Loveman points out that there is going to be online poker in the U.S. no matter what and that the question is, “Should we seize the moment to legalize online poker, permit a safe and legitimate industry in the U.S., and bring those jobs and revenues home?” He goes on to compare poker’s current state in the U.S. to prohibition and offers some ideas on how to regulate it. Of course, there is also the stereotypical touting of the importance of federal funding for problem gambling services that casino CEOs love to hype. Not that these services are a bad thing, on the contrary, they are very necessary. It’s just that there’s always a certain irony when the CEO of a company that makes its money from people gambling calls for more federal funding to problem gambling hotlines.

Loveman’s op-ed is a reminder that online poker has some friends in high places. If online poker becomes legalized in the U.S., it won’t be because enough people joined the PPA and wrote their Congressmen (though those things are important), it will be because people like Gary Loveman want online poker to be legal and had the right connections to make it happen.

Man Robs Bellagio for $1.5 Million

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Yesterday, Bellagio in Las Vegas was robbed by a man who sped away on a motorcycle after taking an estimated $1.5-$2 million in chips from a craps table. Police released an 11 second video showing the man running through the casino. He is wearing a motorcycle helmet and at one point turns and points the gun behind him.

Police suspect this same man robbed the Las Vegas Suncoast poker room last week where he sped away on a motorcycle after coming away with $20,000. The man took chips with values ranging from $100 to $25,000 from Bellagio. Police and Bellagio security will be keeping an eye out for anyone seeking to redeem high denomination chips in hopes of catching the bandit.

Score One for the Nits

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Nits all over the world rejoiced today on the news that Harrah’s, owners and operators of the World Series of Poker, will cough up an extra $100 to anyone who redeemed a free $15 Birthday Cash coupon at any of the company’s properties. The reason for their added generosity stems from a class action lawsuit filed by Debra Smerling against the company in 2003. Smerling alleged that after the clock struck midnight on her birthday on August 10th, she tried to redeem her free $15 coupon at Harrah’s Atlantic City but was denied by the property who told her that their new casino day did not start until 8:00 am. Not wanting to wait around eight hours for a free $15, Smerling left the property and instead chose to spend the next seven years fighting the company in court for not publishing anything on her Birthday Cash coupon that defined their gaming day hours.

As a result of this lawsuit, some 80,000 Total Rewards members, Harrah’s loyalty-based member program, will receive an additional $100 as compensation for any troubles they might have encountered when redeeming their $15 Birthday Cash coupon. This penalty was passed down by the New Jersey Truth in Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act. An additional 270,000 Total Rewards members who received a $15 Birthday Cash coupon but opted not to redeem it will receive notices of this lawsuit telling them that if they attempted to redeem their coupon and were denied, they can file a separate lawsuit against Harrah’s.