Vegas was hit hard by the bursting housing bubble and recession. As a result, WSOP-bound poker players found travel and lodging bargains over the past few summers. But with these and other ancillary economic factors in flux, 2012 could prove to be more challenging for frugal gamblers … unless you are an alcoholic vegan who flies no frills with no checked bags, rents a condo instead of getting a hotel room on (or near) the Strip, and opts out of any $1 million buy-in events. Then you should be OK.
Gas prices: If you’ve filled your gas tank lately, you know you’re paying more for a gallon of gas. On average, gasoline prices are running 7.8 percent higher than they were this time last year. If you’re planning a cross-country drive, you can anticipate some additional expense. Check out the gas prices by region here.
Airfares: Airlines are fairly efficient at passing on higher jet fuel costs to their passengers. Surprisingly, airfares to Vegas are substantially lower this year. Use Expedia’s “Trend Tracker” to see how much lower your route is this year over last. Low cost carriers have added flights to Vegas in the past year, keeping a lid on airfares. Spirit Airlines has added 119 weekly flights into Vegas since last year and Allegiant enjoy Air has added 32 flights per week — while higher cost carriers have cut back. Airport statistic geeks will McCarran’s monthly flight activity reports.
Hotel Rates: When MGM’s City Center opened in December 2009, it dumped more than 4,000 hotel rooms into an already saturated market. But the slow and steady economic recovery has been taking up some of the slack. As a result, the average daily rate (ADR) for hotels is higher this year. According to their latest financial statements, the ADR for MGM Strip properties is $127, up 10.4% from last year. The ADR for Caesars Entertainment’s Las Vegas properties is up 8.3 percent to $9. The Wynn’s ADR is up 15.2 percent over last year, coming in at $242.
Condo/House Rentals: House and condo rental prices are marginally lower this year, according to the latest from HUD’s Fair Market Rents Data Set. If you and your friends are heading out for a prolonged WSOP stay, you might consider a short-term house rental. But be careful. Rental scams in Las Vegas involving foreclosed properties are not uncommon. Read this article to learn more about these scams.
Food and Beverage Prices: Overal, food and beverage prices are up 4.2% since last year. It’s especailly bad if you lived off hamburgers (up 10.6%) and coffee (up 15.4%). Vegans, however, will save this year (fresh fruits and vegatables are down 0.1%). And its not too bad for alcoholics. Stocking the bar at your condo will only be 2.1% more expensive this year. You can check out the BLS CPI report for more details.
WSOP Buy-Ins: If your goal is to play the most expensive event at the WSOP, you are going to have to fork over much more than last year. Last year’s $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship looks like a bargain compared with this year’s $1 million “Big One for One Drop” event. If $1,000 and $1,500 buy-in events are more your speed, however, you are in luck. The 2012 WSOP schedule includes two additional events in the weekend-warrior price range. Less good news for the frugal: juice is still 10 percent for these events (7 percent for entry fees and 3 percent for tournament staff).