Nevada Poker Revenues Up 3 Percent in May Ahead of Annual WSOP Bump

According to data from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, year-over-year poker revenues were up 2.85 percent in May, even as the number of tables in the state continued its downward trend.

Poker revenues May 2018

Players compete in the 2017 World Series of Poker Casino Employee Event. (Image: Caesars.com/Las Vegas Blog)

Overall, Nevada’s poker rooms brought in $9.17 million in the month, as the local poker industry continues to see small but steady gains in 2018.

Revenues Rising Steadily                                    

The general picture shows that revenues are up slightly in recent months, with both the three-month and 12-month periods ending in May being up about two percent over the preceding year. Surprisingly, this is happening even as the number of poker tables in the state continues to fall.

The number of rooms held steady: in both May 2017 and May 2018, there were 62 venues spreading poker. But the number of tables fell from 724 to 688, a decline of about five percent.

Whether or not that should be concerning is a matter of perspective. With revenues up, that means that the remaining tables are either busier or hosting higher-stakes events, which is great news for the casinos: they can expect greater profits while utilizing less space, a win-win situation for operators.

For those who care more about the long-term health of the game rather than casino profits, though, a drop in tables could raise concerns that there has been a drop in public interest in poker – or, at least, that there are now fewer opportunities for casual players to get into games.

That won’t be a concern as the numbers come in for the summer, however. About 100 tables had been added for May in anticipation of the World Series of Poker, and when the June numbers are released, revenues should be way up as well, as poker players flood in from around the world to test their skills.

Far Cry from Poker Boom Years

It’s no secret that the size of the Nevada poker market has declined in recent years. According to historical data from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, poker revenues in the state peaked in 2006, when 106 rooms brought in over $160 million for the year. While casinos continued to cash in on the poker boom for a few more years, revenues steadily declined, and the number of rooms and tables began to fall after 2010.

It’s not as if poker is going to disappear anytime soon, though. The number of poker rooms in the state remains above the pre-boom days: in 2002, there were just 386 tables in the state before the industry started experiencing explosive growth the following year.

While poker revenue represents only a tiny fraction of Nevada’s total gaming take – less than one percent in most months these days – that contribution was still helpful in allowing the state to hit a milestone figure in May. The NGCB reported that the total state gaming win was $1.04 billion for the month, representing a 5.3 percent increase over the previous year and the fourth time in 2018 when total revenues topped the $1 billion mark.

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