Hundreds of dealers recruited for World Series of Poker in Las Vegas
(Las Vegas).- Some dealers working the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas starting Tuesday won’t have far to commute to the event at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas.
With the rising cost of gas and housing in Southern Nevada, tournament officials secured 200 rooms at the nearby Rio at $30 a night for tournament dealers. The Rio, on Flamingo Road, is about a 5-minute drive from the Strip tournament venue. It was part of an effort to sweeten the benefits to attract 1,000 dealers in a tight labor market, said Jack Effel, the WSOP vice president.
“A lot of dealers are tagging up with someone to share a room,” Effel said. “We were able to get a lot of dealers that way. With roommates that people have, we probably have about 300 dealers taking advantage of that. Everything is more expensive right now, whether we’re talking about renting a house or driving places with gas at $5 a gallon.”
As of Thursday, about 1,000 dealers have been secured for World Series events, which run from Tuesday through July 19, officials said. On some days, there will be as many as 600 tables in play.
Officials also increased the base pay for dealers to $12.50 an hour, up from $9.75 an hour. Additionally, dealers earn $15 per down — a 30-minute shift at a table — for hold’em-only bracelet events. Non-hold-em bracelet events — games such as Omaha — pay $20 per down. That means dealers can earn up to $50 an hour, and that’s before tips. Many of the dealers come from outside the local market, Effel said. “We went everywhere we could think of to find dealers,” Effel said. “Some are veterans who have worked for us many times. Others are people who are coming back to dealing because they had been driving for Uber and gas got too high. Some (former dealers) in Las Vegas left in recent years for places like Texas or Florida.”
The general consensus is a record number of entrants could play in the series, which in 2020 was conducted mostly online because of the pandemic.
The 2021 event moved to the fall and drew 127,000 participants, but it lacked international competitors because of travel restrictions. By comparison, 187,298 entrants from 118 countries played in 2019.
The tournament also increased pay for some 200 cashiers by $2 an hour to $16 an hour. A cashier’s pay can also be supplemented with tips.
Ty Stewart, executive director of the World Series, said labor challenges were the “No. 1 topic every day” as organizers prepared for this year’s tournament.
The staffing challenges experienced by the tournament mirror what’s happening on the Strip after properties reopened in June 2020 following nearly 90 days of mandatory closures because of the pandemic.
Jason Gregorec, senior vice president and general manager of Bally’s, said the planned opening for the resort’s new Jack Binion’s Steak restaurant was pushed back because of staffing shortages.
Bally’s officials had hoped to open the steakhouse for the start of the World Series. Now, the plan is to open June 8, Gregorec said.
“It’s much better now than it has been, which I think is similar to what was seen with the World Series of Poker,” Gregorec said of the recent hiring challenges.
Sometime later this year, Bally’s will be rebranded as Horseshoe Las Vegas, a development recently announced by operator Caesars Entertainment.
The renaming is a nod to the old Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas, which later became Binion’s Gambling Hall. It was the original home to the World Series of Poker, which is now in its 52nd year.