Are Poker Rooms Folding?

Poker rooms were drying up in Nevada when Tennessee accountant Chris Moneymaker converted a $39 online satellite tournament investment into an improbable $2.5 million victory in the 2003 World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas.

Moneymaker's feat and the introduction of a special camera that allows television viewers to see a player's hole cards contributed to a global explosion of poker mania.

Nevada casinos, which went from 92 poker rooms and 564 tables in 1992 to 57 rooms and 386 tables in 2002, suddenly rediscovered the card game. By 2008, there were 113 rooms and 913 tables, according to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research.

Then came the recession, followed by a Justice Department crackdown on unregulated poker websites. These factors helped contribute to a gradual downturn once again in the number of poker rooms and tables available to Nevada's casino patrons.

Still, the 99 rooms and 809 tables available as of last year remained higher than in 2005, which was after poker mania began building momentum. But poker room revenue declined in each of the past five years, falling from a high of $168 million in 2007 to $123.3 million in 2012.


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