The heavy impact of the COVID-19 situation brought drastic effects to the gaming and sport industries all around the world. As most operations were put to a temporary halt during the peak of the pandemic, establishments are now slowly beginning to reopen with strict precautionary measures in place. Players however, must not expect regular games from casinos and poker rooms alike to run as to how it was before. Certain changes and limitations are being implemented in efforts to curb and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Big Waiting List in the Recently Reopened Poker Room
Last Thursday, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino located in Tampa, Florida reopened its doors to the public including its esteemed poker room. The 46-table room, which was closed since mid-March, will only operate at a maximum 50% capacity with a six player limit per table. Aside from the restrictions, all tables have been built with large plexiglass dividers in front of the dealer as well as in between the players to protect both members and staff from transmission. A $3 rake maximum per hand for all games is also applied as part of its month of May promotions.
Poker room at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa reopened 2 hours ago.
Current waiting list: 106 players
They have 18 tables in action right now pic.twitter.com/KsUx7tzgIl
— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) May 22, 2020
On the property’s official Twitter account, it posted “Poker is BACK this Thursday, May 21st @ 7pm! As we prepare to welcome you back, we have made essential updates to our operations including the intro of the SAFE & SOUND program that helps to keep our guests and team members safe. ”
In addition to the recent changes, all team members and guests are now required to wear masks inside the facility. Cards, chips and other necessary items will also be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. Included in the Safe & Sound program is the ability of guests to call-in directly to enlist for a seat or request an available game.
On opening night alone, more than a hundred guests were waitlisted for games ranging from $1-$2 no-limit hold’em up to $2-$5 pot-limit Omaha despite potential risks. The Seminole Hard Rock poker room is not the only establishment receiving a successful response from the public. Other states in the country are also experiencing great demand for poker and casino gaming since it became available again.
Bestbet poker rooms located in Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida have also reopened its branches last Friday but without doing so with the plexiglass dividers. Limited to six-handed games as well, the properties have implemented enhanced cleaning policies for safety purposes. The Sarasota Kennel Club in the same state, is also up and running with eight handed table games and similar dividers in place. Just a few days ago, the property announced that it will be holding its first live tournament since the outbreak began. With poker slowly getting back on its feet in the Sunshine State, it is just a matter of time for other poker rooms to follow suit given no massive spike in confirmed cases will occur in the near future.
Venetian to Give Four-handed Action on June; Wynn Resorts to Postpone Poker Operations
As announced previously by Governor Steve Sisolak, the state of Las Vegas will be following a multi-stage plan to safely restart the state’s economy. The first phase of Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery which began roughly two weeks ago, still required casinos and gaming enterprises to remain closed for the meantime. Considering positive and consistent trends are reflected in the following days, the state will move on to phase two with a June 4 target date wherein casinos will be allowed to operate with prior approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Preparing to reopen on June 5, the Venetian is ready to cooperate with the Board’s policies in carrying out reduced operational hours and a four player limit to a table. The property however, will not be using plexiglass dividers and will only heighten cleaning and sanitizing protocols to be done every two hours. Scheduled to run from 9am to 1am, the poker room will also be offering $100 buy-in, winner-take-all, single-table tournaments that start as soon as four players have registered, ultimately cancelling their DeepStack tournament series.
Wynn Resorts on the other hand, announced that when it opens its doors to the public, their poker rooms will remain closed and will set to reopen on a later date when the situation is essentially better.
“We don’t in any way want to do anything we can’t execute as safely as possible,” said president of Encore Boston Harbor Brian Gullbrants on Bloomberg Radio. “This is an evolving situation.”