After 11 years, poker will soon be back on the menu at the Tropicana Las Vegas. Trop owner Bally’s has signed a deal with Washington state’s Maverick Gaming to operate a poker room, which will attract customers by offering low stakes and the “lowest rakes in town,” according to an announcement by Maverick.
The Maverick Gaming Poker Room will open in June, with more details of the grand opening expected to be announced soon, according to Jeremy Weinstein, CMO for Maverick.
The deal will also include the expansion of Bally’s Big Bet Poker livestream and TV show to the Tropicana. The show will feature poker player and Maverick CEO Eric Persson and other big names in poker playing for high stakes in a dedicated broadcast studio located adjacent to the poker room.
‘Black Friday’ Poker Room
The Tropicana hasn’t had a poker room since 2012. Its last was short-lived and ill-fated. With former WSOP champion Jamie Gold as its ambassador, it had the misfortune to open on April 15, 2011, a day that would become known to poker players as “Black Friday.”
This had nothing to do with the Tropicana poker room. It was the day that the US Department of Justice indicted the three largest online poker sites serving US players for violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), effectively shutting down the online poker market.
While in the short term, the cessation of online poker might have seemed like a good thing for a live poker room, in reality, the online game feeds the live game by attracting more players and swelling tournament pools through online satellites.
The Trop’s poker room closed in September 2012 to be replaced by rows of bankable slot machines.
CEO’s a Maverick
Maverick currently owns four commercial casinos in Nevada and three in Colorado. The company began buying up poker rooms in Washington state like they were going out of fashion after the Supreme Court defanged PASPA, the federal prohibition on sports betting.
Persson was banking on the state legalizing commercial sports betting to licensed gaming venues, but lawmakers had different ideas. When they passed a tribal-only bill in 2020, Persson sued the state and the federal government, arguing the monopoly was unconstitutional.
When a judge ruled against him in February, Persson indicated he would fight the issue all the way to the US Supreme Court.
The Tropicana is owned by the real estate investment trust Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc, while the Bally’s is the casino operator. The two companies recently signed a deal with MLB’s Oakland A’s to build a $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat baseball stadium on nine acres of land near the Tropicana.
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