Las Vegas began reopening casinos in early June, offering a limited capacity and far fewer services that what was provided post-Covid-19. In the beginning, poker was not included in the casino gaming options but, poker rooms have slowly started to come back to life. The Bellagio, Orleans and Caesars Palace are a few examples of casinos that are offering poker gaming. While the game is back on at some venues, will players continue to show up to the felt? As we speak, Covid-19 cases are increasing, and players are now required to wear masks at the table. Is this going to keep players at home?
Increase in Cases
Let’s begin with an increase in cases. As testing continues, there is going to be an increase in cases. Across the US, individual states are testing the same number of people, but more are showing up positive than negative when compared to weeks earlier. In Las Vegas, casinos are starting to see cases occurring, in various areas.
Just last week, two employees of the Cosmopolitan Casino’s concierge team received a positive test result. This was followed by three positive tests at the Sahara within its Northside Café. The more people congregate, the higher the possibility that they will eventually test positive for the virus.
In Las Vegas, guests of casinos are encouraged to wear masks, but most are not doing so. The Culinary Union is now asking regulators to make it mandatory for guests to wear masks in public spaces for the health of employees. The employees of casinos, both the hotel and gaming floor sections, along with cooks and other positions, are worried that people who are not wearing a face mask are silently spreading the disease.
One of the big issues with the coronavirus is the fact the people can be asymptomatic. This means that a person can have the virus but show no signs or symptoms. If an individual that is asymptomatic goes out in public and does not wear a mask, they can easily transfer the virus to others. With mask wearing, it cuts down on the number of people exposed to those who are asymptomatic.
Stepping up Regulations
Already, not even two weeks after the casinos reopened in Las Vegas, the Nevada Gaming Control Board decided to reassess health and safety guidelines. This was largely in part to the crowds showing up at the casinos and the majority of players were not wearing masks.
Now, new regulations require players at table games such as poker to wear masks when plexiglass barriers are not in place. At the poker table, players are side by side and are sharing cards and chips. Casinos are trying to cut down on the likelihood that people will get the coronavirus by cleaning chips and cards regularly as well as only allowing five to six people per table, based on the venue.
Poker rooms are also using barriers between players and the dealer to help create distance between those at the poker table.
So, with all the new mask restriction and the increase in cases, are poker players still going to visit Las Vegas to play the game? We shall see in the coming weeks if the poker tables stay as busy as they were upon reopening or will players stop visiting because cases are rising or because they do not want to wear a face mask.