As you probably know Las Vegas is having a tough time of it. The housing market crashed, unemployment is over 13% and tourism spending is way down. The city has too many houses, too many people walking away from their houses and too many people leaving the city to find a better job situation. One of the brighter spots that many have been looking forward to is the World Series of Poker. Thanks to Black Friday I think those expecting a boom from that are going to be in for a rude surprise.
Since online poker rooms can no longer enter players nobody knows what percent of players in World Series of Poker events, especially the Main Event, won online satellites. Several years ago Casino City estimated the percentage of players in the Main Event that won online satellites was 75%. That is probably high but considering the number of players that walked around in online poker logos it might close. Even in the smaller events the online poker rooms would sponsor their pros and cover their buyins. Since players that won Main Event satellites could just take the cash instead it was not uncommon for those players to play multiple smaller events instead of one large one to lower their variance.
With PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and UB out of the U.S. market there are few if any choices for U.S. players to satellite into the World Series through an online poker room. While non U.S. rooms will still send players it will not match the volume of U.S. players that would play. U.S. players are also still waiting for their bankrolls to be cashed out of Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and UB. If players do not have their money by the time the events start then those that may otherwise buy right in will not have the bankroll to do so.
The lack of WSOP players will affect quite a few industries in Las Vegas. First if there are fewer entries into events Caesar’s Entertainment, formerly known as Harrah’s, will not make as much money off of their 6% entry fees and $5 rake. Fewer entrants will mean that Caesar’s will have to trim the thousands of jobs that normally are created by the event. It isn’t just the dealers that will lose, floor supervisors, drink servers, janitorial services, food service and beverage companies will all lose.
Outside the Rio there will be a pinch as well. Fewer cabs will be used, fewer people will rent cars, fewer people will fly in and out of Las Vegas and fewer people will rent hotel rooms. Even the Las Vegas Courtesan (NSFW link) might feel the effect of Black Friday. The poker news businesses will also take a hit. Many of the reporters that have covered the events in the past will not do so as these companies cut back. CardPlayer is based in Las Vegas too and they almost certainly have felt the loss of U.S. friendly advertisers.
If you have ever been to Rio during the World Series of Poker then you know there are thousands of spectators that roam around the convention center. These spectators are looking for photo opportunities with their favorite professional poker players. I have a feeling that there will be quite a few absent poker pros this summer. After all of the indictments some players may want to lay low. Others may not be able to afford to buy into events either because they were counting on the online poker rooms to buy them in or their cashouts have not been processed. If enough poker pros are absent it could affect spectator attendance for years to come as the crowds may not come back.
If Nevada or the federal government would wake up and get us out of the dark ages of online poker then the exact opposite would be true. Las Vegas could create thousands if not tens of thousands of jobs, some of which high paying tech jobs which Las Vegas needs very badly. It is sad to see that due to the ignorance of the government on all levels Las Vegas, America’s adult playground, has to suffer. Hasn’t Las Vegas suffered enough? It is time to act to get this city back on its feet. What has been going on in online poker in the United States is completely unacceptable.