Harrah’s poker series boosts Tahoe tourism | NevadaAppeal.com

Harrah’s poker series boosts Tahoe tourism

Susan Wood
Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal News Service Migle Lenguenyte deals Texas hold'em poker at Harveys Resort Casino. The World Series of Poker will come to Stateline in April and be televised on ESPN.

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe may give tourism a hand in April.

With the World Series of Poker show to be televised from Stateline, tourism and casinos insiders are welcoming the ESPN show with open arms.

“Anything Nevada can (do) to attract events to the Lake Tahoe area is beneficial to this tourism-based economy,” said Chris Chrystal, spokeswoman for the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

The commission has invested a lot of money in events thought to spur tourism, such as $15,000 last year for October’s Lake Tahoe Marathon.

“Nevada must keep its eye on the ball when it comes to diversifying its economy. And events are important; we always need more. They bring in proven revenue that fills hotels, restaurants and casinos,” Chrystal said.

And that’s just the kind of news the business and marketing community wants to hear – especially from Labor Day to Thanksgiving and the end of ski season until Memorial Day weekend.

“I can’t think of a downside to this. It’s a big spectator sport. My hats are off to them, looking for ways to reinvent excitement for the (casino corridor) area,” said Zephyr Cove Resort spokeswoman Carol Chaplin, South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce president and a member of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority marketing committee.

The board of the basin’s largest tourism agency created the Blue World image-building marketing campaign on a similar principle.

“Since it will be televised, it will take a while to trickle down to those who will say: ‘Let’s take a trip to Tahoe,'” Chaplin added. “But we can’t afford not to try these things because we don’t have much of a marketing budget.”

“You know, getting the World Series of Poker here reminds me of when I worked at the Sahara Tahoe and they brought the Amarillo Slim Super Bowl of Poker into town. It was one exciting thing – even for observers,” Tahoe Douglas Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathy Farrell said. The Sahara became the Horizon Casino Resort.

Steve Schorr, sports book manager Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, is organizing the Stateline show. But Harrah’s will hire a tournament director from Las Vegas to run the circuit.

The tournament requires players to buy in with $10,000. In the Stateline location alone, Schorr believes the purse will amount to more than $1 million.

Harrah’s will open up 50 tables for the 12-day enterprise in its convention center.

Poker is an emerging market. Casino management has observed it now attracts a younger audience and more women. To accommodate the popularity, smoke-free specialty rooms have been opened.

ESPN shows outdoor scenes of the host casinos it airs. With that, Schorr expects Lake Tahoe to attract tourists.

Harrah’s sponsorship of the World Series of Poker will also be staged at its properties in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, N.J., New Orleans and San Diego.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or swood@tahoedailytribune.com