The World Series of Poker is an ever-changing entity, and that’s on display again in the WSOP’s 2021 edition. Beyond the events and the players themselves, the WSOP and parent company Caesars are continually planning the WSOP’s next evolutionary step. In 2021, that next step is on clear display: increasing the links between poker playing and betting on sports.
It’s a natural fit. There’s always been a high correlation between the two gambling activities. This year, the oft-neglected Miranda Room has no poker tables whatsoever. Instead, the room has been redesigned into a spacious and upscale sports lounge, adjacent to a redesigned “WSOP Cafe” that’s also been taken up a notch from earlier years’ food offerings near the poker.
The WSOP’s new “Caesars Sportsbook Lounge” is the big story, however. Not only for what it is this year, but for what it represents in the WSOP’s and Caesars’ future. It might not exist at all if not for the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impact on the WSOP’s expected attendance. It’s a case, though, of Caesars and the WSOP making the best of a tough present day to shape what they hope is a better future.
Chochon: Sportsbook at WSOP ‘makes a lot of sense’
Caesars Entertainment Director Gregory Chochon spoke to Poker.org about how the “Caesars Sportsbook Lounge” became part of the WSOP experience. With space in the Rio Convention Center becoming available, and Caesars partnering with some NFL teams, it all made great corporate sense. Perhaps the biggest factor, though: football season.
“This year, the big change is because we have football,” Chochon explained. “Usually the WSOP is during the summer, when there is no football. So with football going on, and Caesars being partners with the NFL, it makes a lot of sense to have a sportsbook inside the Rio.”
The Miranda Room’s relatively poor fit to the WSOP made it the best location available. “We know this Miranda Room, for the players, they didn’t really like it for many years. It was like the Poker Kitchen. And we said it would be great to have a full sportsbook with all the capabilities where you can deposit cash with your mobile [device]. And I hope we’re going to have some VIPs coming in November. Like famous sports people hanging there with friends and everything and that could be really cool.”
Easy access for poker players is part of the equation, too. The Rio casino has its own sportsbook, but it’s nearly a quarter-mile walk from the poker action to the Rio book, adjacent to where the Rio’s small poker room sits closed and empty. “That’s a long way,” said Chochon.
And about convenience. Chochon stated, “The idea is like during Sunday night, or Sunday football, if they follow all the games, people can just play the big poker events on Sunday, and they can just walk there (across the hall) and come back to the table, This is a sportsbook at the same time as the poker. That’s the main idea.”
More adjustments in 2022
The hidden hitch is that it’s almost certainly the last year for the WSOP at the Rio. The 2022 WSOP will likely be held at Planet Hollywood and Bally’s, on the Vegas Strip. “We’re still working on it,” said Chochon, about having a sportsbook within the WSOP at next year’s series. “But I’m sure we’re going to find a great place.”
“You know, the Rio is great for a lot of things. The convention center is so huge that we can make it our home for seven weeks. And we need to find a new spot where you can have the same. It’s not so easy, you know. I know a lot of people were complaining about the Rio, but they can understand it more when you’re going to leave it.”
“We’re going to miss it. So that’s going to be a big challenge for for next year.”
Featured image source: Haley Hintze