In the United States, the gaming industry has been at a standstill for the past few months. Casinos and poker room shut down in mid-March, as the coronavirus became a huge problem across the nation. Over the past few weeks, casinos have been opening back up to offer gaming services at a lowered capacity. However, poker rooms remained closed. Because poker is a social game, operators were afraid that the handling of chips and cards would leave to more exposure. However, card rooms are now being reopened with precautions in place to try and offer the game without worrying about spreading the virus.
Strip Card Rooms Reopen
Late last week, three poker rooms on the strip reopened, ready to offer poker gaming at a limited capacity. With the reopening of these rooms, Las Vegas now has a total of seven rooms for players to enjoy their favorite card games.
Sahara, the Bellagio and Caesars Palace announced their poker rooms would reopen and are the latest to offer services in Sin City. They join the group consisting of The Orleans, the Venetian, Golden Nugget and South Point in offering poker gaming.
The Sahara will be offering five-handed games with a $4 max rake. Free drinks will be reinstated along with comps and progressive high hand promotions. The poker room will only be open from 6pm until 2am.
Caesars Palace will offer poker gaming for a longer period of time each day, from 10am until 2am. The poker room will also offer five-handed games. They will be following the protocols set forth by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, with a new rule now requiring all players wear a face mask.
In the beginning, the poker room of Caesars will only be open from Thursday to Sunday. This should change in the future, but it is unclear as to when or what will cause the poker room to open for additional days during the week.
The Bellagio will be open the longest out of the three, ready to offer poker 24 hours a day, each day of the week. The Bellagio and South Point are the only two operators prepared to offer poker around the clock.
The Bellagio is also the only room that will be offering six-handed games. They have installed plexiglass that divides the players from each other and the dealer. The poker room will only use a portion of its tables, opening up 23 instead of the full 36.
Will Players Visit?
With the poker rooms reopening on the Strip and elsewhere across the US, now it begs the question, will players visit? It is unclear as to if poker players are ready to get back in the game in person. The virus is continuing to spread around the United States and even with proper social distancing and wearing a mask, the threat is still real.
Will players be willing to travel to Las Vegas poker rooms and take part in poker once again? We may see the traffic at a much slower pace than before at the tables for some time, until players feel more comfortable playing next to strangers.
Casinos are taking precautions such as taking the temperature of guests and offering hand sanitizer for washing but even this may not be a strong enough deterrent. We should see over the coming weeks if the poker rooms are seeing a steady flow of traffic and if it is enough to keep the poker rooms in business as the operators try to get back to normal.