When I had a small room -- no bar or restaurant -- tournaments were an expense for me (table time and perks for the participants) without adding money. Granted, there is some promotional value, but in my experience it was minimal.
So, IMO, for added money to make sense for the room owner, he needs to have a bar, a restaurant, and plenty of room for spectators.
As to matching up and just gambling for the cash, I think lots of players would like to put up money with several others to play a tournament format, if someone would organize it for them.
Tournaments that are not specifically organized to have an elite-player-only field will have about half the field putting up entry fees by "can't win" players... that should make it juicy enough for the other half.
I'm confused by the idea that room owners "owe" the players more than the time and resources for promoting/organizing and the free table time to play it.
Arent room owners running the risk of losing their business and liquor license under vice and gambling laws if big games happen on their premises? I am not familiar with rural and suburban areas but Ive seen rooms in Los Angeles get raided by vice squads for excessive gambling.
Big $ tournaments seem to be able to get around this issue. The room owner can provide a safe and legitimate arena. More pool fans can get access. Agreements to stream the match is more logical. The room owner already makes a great contribution.