The pressure for casinos to reopen in the United States continues to increase, especially as local economics remain in a downward spiral. In Pennsylvania, casinos will eventually reopen, but things will be different than before. For poker fans, the poker rooms will not be in business, due to social distancing requirements.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has released their measures and guidelines for operators that must be followed upon reopening. The goal is to provide a safe environment for both customers and employees. The measures are in place to protect everyone as the coronavirus is still a threat in the US. People want to be able to enjoy entertainment as they did in the past, but precautions must be taken.
For Pennsylvania, they feel that poker rooms need to stay closed in order to avoid spreading the virus. In the new guidelines, the board stated that poker rooms are not authorized to reopen due to players handling cards and chips. The board will re-examine the operations of card rooms once the CDC or Pennsylvania Department of Health provides new guidance.
The virus spreads due to droplets which could easily be on poker cards and chips. For other games that require chips and cards, like blackjack, other states are using two dealers. One will handle the cards and chips of players while the other is the dealer.
With the game of poker, this would be much more difficult. So for now, players who want to enjoy a game of poker will have to stick to online options in the state or video poker at the casinos.
Online Poker Growing
For those who enjoy online poker in the state, there may soon be a second operator available. For many months, the state has only had PokerStars as an online poker provider. Now, it seems that the WSOP is preparing to launch in the state. The brand is seeking approval from the board along with 888 poker, the platform provider of the WSOP.
Last month, 888poker was currently being reviewed by the investigative unit. Gaming regulators in other states like New Jersey and Nevada have already approved the brand years ago, so there is no doubt that they will be approved in Pennsylvania.
We expect that WSOP will launch by summer or at least in the next few months. Just recently, the CEO and Director of 888poker, Itai Pazner, stated during a conference call that the company is preparing to launch a new product called Poker 8. We may see the brand release this new product as they launch in Pennsylvania.
At least for poker players, they have online options that can help fill the gap from the lack of live poker gaming. With 888/WSOP on the horizon, it also gives poker players something to look forward to in the future, including bracelet or ring events that might be offered in the future.
Stay tuned to see how the state develops their online poker market over the next few weeks as well as how popular the market remains as players stay home to avoid the coronavirus outbreak.