Across the United States, there has been a serious lack of land-based poker gaming. Players have been unable to visit casinos due to the coronavirus pandemic and even when casinos opened back up, poker rooms remained closed. The game is one that requires contact, with players sharing cards and chips as well as sitting side by side. The virus requires social distancing, so many casinos opted to avoid opening that portion of their property back up. In the state of Pennsylvania, several media reports are indicating that poker rooms will be back in action within just a few weeks, as plans have been submitted to the state’s Gaming Control Board.
Several news outlets are reporting that details have emerged regarding the poker industry in Pennsylvania. PlayPennsylvania says that a spokesperson for the board said that casinos have submitted safety plans for reopening the poker rooms. However, no names of which casinos are involved have been provided.
While operators are not responding to questions, reporters are still digging in. US Poker reporter , stating he had inside information that poker would be back in six weeks, with the Parx Casino offering seven player tables.
When casinos reopened in Pennsylvania back in June, poker was not authorized within the reopening protocols. According to Gaming Control Board Director of Communication Doug Harbach, the casinos wanted to make sure they could get the venues opened and protocols working well before opening up other areas, like poker rooms.
Thankfully for the state, poker players do have online action they can take advantage of via PokerStars. The brand is currently the only operator offering online poker services in the state. However, other platforms are expected to launch in the near future.
No Poker Across the Board
In general, poker gaming is still not available at casinos across the United States. Neighboring New Jersey does not have poker games in place, along with casinos in Massachusetts and other nearby states. In Nevada, the Bellagio Casino decided to start offering poker again in June. They are only allowed to have five players at one table when there are no dividers in place.
The state’s Gaming Control Board eventually approved six handed games with partitions in place. Other poker rooms, like the one at the Venetian, have also opened up. They use a unique plexiglass system to allow players to stay separated with ease.
Are Players Ready?
While casinos certainly want to offer poker gaming once again in person and players want to play, are they really ready to do so? Are players open to sitting side by side others and feel secure? Many major gambling hubs, like Las Vegas, have seen a large drop in tourism due to fear of travel by patrons. If the games are allowed to come back, will there be enough players to fill the tables?
It is certainly something that casinos are most likely going to be considering moving forward. With so much money lost already, operators will want to ensure that the move is a lucrative one rather than just trying to open poker back up for the sake of reopening.