Poker Rooms Gradually Reopen Around the World

Poker Rooms Gradually Reopen Around the World

0 comments 14 July 2020, 10:52

Casinos and gaming rooms around the world shuttered their doors back in March in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

As a result, revenues for an industry that depends entirely on physical visitors inevitably plummeted to near record lows. Thousands of jobs were lost and the future looked bleak.

Following the relaxing of some measures, business is starting to slowly trickle in as casinos and game rooms across the globe start to welcome visitors back to the floor.

In many countries and cities, poker rooms were among the first to close. Given the social distancing measures introduced to ensure health and safety for guests and staff, that is hardly surprising.

However, in some positive news for poker players around the world, poker rooms have started to reopen and welcome players back to the tables.

Poker tournaments, particularly in the United States, remain off limits, with casinos hosting cash games. The biggest exception was found at King’s Casino Rozvadov in the Czech Republic, where The Big Week tournament was held on May 25-31. One of the biggest poker rooms in Europe, King’s Casino had opened its doors on May 11, more than two months after closing due to the pandemic.

Yet, the case of King’s Casino is an exception rather than the rule. While poker rooms around Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States have restarted operations, strict measures have been put in place.

Las Vegas has made a big push in recent weeks to dust off their poker tables and urge visitors to return. MGM Resorts announced that the ARIA Poker Room at the ARIA Resort and Casino had followed the Bellagio in reopening, while tables at Caesars Palace, The Venetian, others are back up and running.

A town dependent on gambling, Las Vegas has also announced the reopening of sportsbooks – at a reduced capacity – allowing for visitors to obtain and bet on the latest NBA odds, NASCAR and Kentucky Derby odds (although you can easily find them online here: https://www.twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/odds ).

Likewise, poker rooms in New Jersey, Arizona, Florida, and all over the US are back to business. The same can be said of poker rooms in Europe and the UK.

Aware of the health risks at allowing gatherings of people as the pandemic rages on, poker rooms have introduced strict protocols. The most striking is the limit of five-handed games, down from the usual nine- or 10-handed games. In some cases, poker rooms are offering six-handed games, but these are being played with plexiglass dividers between all the players and the dealer.

Another condition is that face masks are mandatory, while poker rooms that would normally offer 24-hour operations have reduced their opening hours. In the case of tables with plexiglass dividers, facemasks usually do not have to be worn.

Food and drinks are widely prohibited inside the poker rooms, hand sanitizers have been made readily available and temperature scanners have been placed at all entrances.

Encouragingly from a business perspective, many of the larger and more popular poker rooms have been consistently full since reopening as people seek to socialize and get out of the house after months of lockdown.

However, large scale professional poker tournaments still appear some way away from returning. Involving thousands of people and long-distance travel, the current protocols make it impossible to stage big events.

“I believe to have large scale multi-table tournaments, the most important thing is that some restrictions have to be lifted,” World Poker Tour Executive Tour Director Matt Savage said.

“Travel restrictions so that players can attend, capacity restrictions so that tournaments don’t have to be capped, and player per table restrictions so that tournaments can be played more than six-handed so that the properties that are open are fine with giving up cash games to run less profitable tournaments while maximizing attendance.”

Given the current climate, such a scenario feels like a pipedream at this stage and professional events, such as the World Series of Poker, will have to remain online for now.

‘Normal’ might not return for some time, but the reopening of poker rooms around the world, even under unique and strange circumstances, is good news for players and businesses alike.

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