The Monte Carlo casino will soon close its 8-table poker room during their $450 million renovation project, marking Last Vegas’ latest casino to disband their poker operation. Going further, this means that poker tables on the Vegas Strip will be down nearly a quarter since a decade ago.
Poker tables first started growing in the mid-2000s, as online poker growth fueled the industry’s popularity increase. But Black Friday, tougher games, and online bots have taken some of the luster off poker.
As ABC News reports, Vegas Strip casinos had 144 poker tables in 2002 and made $30 million off the game. By 2007, the number of tables ballooned to 405, and revenue more than tripled to $97 million. Looking at Nevada as a whole, casinos had 907 tables and earned $168 million from poker.
This trend has definitely reversed, with Vegas casinos making $78 million through 320 poker tables, while the entire state made $118 million from 661 tables.
Part of the reason why casinos are so quick to follow popularity trends with poker is that they’ve never made much money off the game. After all, they only take small percentages from each pot, instead of making money directly off losing players through a house edge.
Besides Monte Carlo, other casinos that have recently closed their poker rooms include: the Hard Rock Casino Hotel, Ellis Island, Palms, and the Tropicana. The driving motivation is that casinos want to maximize each square foot of space, and poker doesn’t generate the revenue that a nightclub, shopping mall, or restaurant can.
“Gaming has become a smaller portion of the overall revenue mix and things like poker rooms are candidates for further evaluation as to whether they make sense or not at a casino property,” said Brian Gordon, who works at the Las Vegas-based research firm Applied Analysis.
Even Caesars Palace, whose parent company owns the World Series of Poker, downsized their poker room by two-thirds in 2015.
“We recognized the room was bigger than it needed to be,” said WSOP VP Seth Palansky. “You can make a lot more money per square foot with a nightclub-dayclub these days than you can with a poker table.”