Live poker has basically been non-existent for the past few months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Poker is one game that requires a social element, with players sharing cards and chips. Because of this, it was difficult for operators to be prepared to offer poker once casinos were allowed to reopen. In Pennsylvania, live poker started coming back earlier this month when the Mohegan Sun Pocono and the Mount Airy Casino were the first to reopen. Now, two more poker rooms are open, helping the industry get back to business.
Rivers and Meadows Poker
Late last week, the Rivers Casino Philadelphia and The Meadows officially reopened their poker rooms. Rivers Casino assistance general manager Peter Longi commented on the reopening, stating that poker players are excited to get back to the gaming tables. At the casino, the team completed a careful planning process to ensure that guests and employees would be taken care of in the space.
Safety precautions are being used by the casino in the poker room based on the Gaming Control Board’s COVID-19 Casino Reopening Protocols. In the poker room at the Rivers, players will see plexiglass barriers in between players. Each poker room will only have seven players per table.
Staff members of the Rivers poker room will wear a mask and have hand sanitizer at each poker table. The cards and chips will be cleaned on a regular basis. The Meadows has implemented similar protocols to ensure the safety and health of their guests and employees.
Food and beverages along with smoking are not allowed in the poker room. The goal of reopening is to allow players to enjoy poker gaming but also try and slow the spread of the virus and avoid any type of contamination if possible.
Getting Back to Business
Casinos across the US shut down in March due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. Casinos in Pennsylvania were allowed to reopen in July but poker rooms were not part of the reopening process. Poker players have been without live gaming in the state for basically seven months. It is unclear if players are going to be willing to enter the poker rooms and play, but already at the opened rooms, players have visited and hit the felt.
While live poker was inactive, players in the state did have access to online poker gaming. PokerStars has been the sole provider of online poker for over a year now and has seen great successful, especially during the early months of the pandemic. Averaging $3 million+ per month in revenues, the online poker market has given New Jersey’s a little competition.
The alternative was a good option for players in Pennsylvania as they have gaming to enjoy while they were stuck at home. The industry has seen a little slow down over the past month, but that is expected as this time frame is when online poker traffic slows down in general.
With the land-based poker rooms opening back up, it will give a good comparison as to how the games will affect the online sector. Will players continue to log online? Or will they start to visit the land-based casinos to play in live form?