About WSTR

The World Series of Team Roping

When the construction of South Point Hotel and Casino Equestrian Center was completed in the spring of 2006, the dream of a world class equestrian center on the Las Vegas strip was a reality. But for sure, the cherry of all events would be the one selected to compliment the NFR. There were lots of options, and every producer of any type of horse event or rodeo lined up and gave their pitch to the South Point.

Team roping during the 1990's had become the biggest segment of the western lifestyle. There were many advisors to SP suggesting that the big event during the NFR should be a major team roping. The Gentrys that had built the United States Team Roping Championships, had retired from producing roping events, but it was suggested that they should be encouraged to come out of seclusion for the venture. Michael Gaughan, owner of South Point Casino, had been around rodeo forever, but he was very skeptical about how the recreational team roping demographic would mix with a gaming operation. But after lots of discussions with some of the Gaughan's close friends in the roping world, the Gaughan's were persuaded to give the Gentrys' a one-year shot. Everything would ride on one try, one spin of the wheel.

The period of family-oriented casinos had passed in Vegas. The Gentrys were contacted by South Point Casino and told that they wanted a world class event, adult-only and wanted customers who fit a gaming demographic. If they could design an event that would live up to those requirements, they would have the full backing of the hotel for a one-year test run. It was understood that they had a mere eight months to make it work.

The offer was accepted, and overnight the plan was developed to produce two high-dollar ropings in December of 2006, with a hybrid entry system. A roper could direct enter at a high price entry fee or qualify supported by low-dollar qualifiers around the country during the year. The Finale entry fees of $4,000 per team would filter ropers who fit the gaming demographic. The qualifiers would be based on a high leverage payoff scheme of 80% payouts that overnight became the buzz in the industry. The strategy of progressive entry – allow ropers at the lower priced qualifiers to "push" winnings to Vegas immediately for the chance at a bigger pot.

2006 was a fast and furious year but when the first Finale moved into South Point in December there was cautious optimism for WSTR and the Casino. With just a touch over 150 teams in each of two divisions, WSTR would hit a $1.2 million dollar event, second or third richest roping in the country, in its very first out. That was more than any other horse disciple could have ever hoped to accomplish as a start-up in less than one year, but would it be enough to fill up the casino?

The combo of the NFR rodeo crowd and the team ropers were a perfect mixture to electrify the South Point Casino each night. The Casino discovered that team ropers are natural gamblers, and the demographic was perfect. In the days following the first Finale, South Point sent notice, WSTR had an invitation to return! Over the years the Casino and Equestrian center have strongly supported the event with hundreds of staff members, and literally millions of dollars invested in high-priced land, lights, sound, hall escalators, million-dollar video boards, two Priefert arenas, and now a new Farnham arena.

The Finale launched the team roping industry higher and higher among performance horse events. By 2020 the team roping industry was easily paying cowboys $70 million in roping purses annually. In Vegas, the Finale payoff jumped from the first year at just over $1 million to over $10 Million in 2015. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, that number rose to $13.8 million. The event is now the second richest horse event in the world.

The World Series of Team Roping was sold in 2015 to a company that is now called Equine Network which is part of a larger group of companies that cater to equine enthusiasts and industry professionals, with live events, and all types of publishing and digital experiences. Equine Network has made large capital investments to improve the yearly experience of recreational ropers all over the world.

Even though there have been many changes as demonstrated by the many innovations over the last fifteen years, WSTR is still the quality standard of the industry. Ty Yost, current President, is carrying on the tradition, "We take the advancement and sustainability of amateur team roping very seriously" says Ty and adds, "The goal of the WSTR is to ensure that every roper has a fun, fair, and competitive place to rope with the opportunity at life-changing money and prizes in an atmosphere that makes every roper feel special and a part of something great."

WSTR has 20 full-time employees who support its programs all year long. The World Series and its Finale staff of 150 dedicate their efforts each year to deliver the best event experience possible.