Casinos and Poker Rooms open, despite rise in Covid-19 cases—citing measures to “safely” operate.


Poker Photos (Flickr)

High Cards Poker

Michael Russell, Reporter

Many casinos and poker rooms have reopened around the country despite the Covid-19 lockdowns.

In Arizona, the Talking Stick Resort, which reopened on June 1st, revealed that they have systems in place for Covid-19 protections according to their website.

The entrances feature a machine that scans the temperature of people entering.

Anything over 100.4 and people are denied entrance.

Face masks are required to be worn and provided free if individuals do not have one.

The poker room has opened only 23 of their 46 tables to provide for social distancing. 

While poker games have mostly been played nine-handed in modern times, the Covid-19 has necessitated changes.

At first, Talking Stick offered four-handed games to provide for social distancing, but a more popular offering was their seven-handed tables with plexiglass dividers.

These are open at the bottom to allow for the dealing of cards and betting of chips.

The seven-handed plexiglass dividers first showed up when Florida poker rooms opened in mid-May and proved immensely popular.

Florida now has the most poker rooms reopened in the country—unfortunately, Florida’s Covid-19 cases are also surging and among the highest in the country.

Arizona’s Talking Stick featured 12 Poker tables at first and they proved so popular that the casino ordered dividers for all 23 of their tables which are now in place.

All 23 tables have been full during peak hours.

These are the only casino poker tables open in Arizona as of this publication.

Desert Diamond West Valley Casino is reopened, but the poker room, which had been scheduled to reopen June 5, remains closed until planned safety equipment arrives—this according to their website. 

Beginning in late May, Fort McDowell Casino, Gila River Casinos, and Harrah’s Ak-chin all reopened, with their poker rooms remaining closed indefinitely. Casinos, traditionally 24-hour operations, now close each night at some locations. Hours vary by casino.

Slot machine areas have closed about half of their machines, allowing for social distancing.

Table games such as blackjack, have fewer seats at each table and use some form of plexiglass dividers.

The mecca of gambling, Las Vegas, has reopened as well.

The poker rooms were initially approved for four-handed games. The casinos lobbied for five-handed games that are now being spread. Many Las Vegas casinos have yet to reopen or have left their poker rooms closed due to an increase in Covid-19 as well.

Casino and hospitality workers have filed lawsuits against the casino owners and operators of such popular places like Harrah’s, MGM and others for not properly protecting employees.

A high number of casinos throughout the country are located on Indian reservations but most have followed the respective governor’s orders with respect to closing or limiting play.

One notable exception is in Connecticut, where two of the countries’ largest casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are located. Governor Ned Lamont wanted them to remain closed as their region is the hardest hit, but they exercised their sovereignty and both reopened June 1st.

The World Series of Poker in Las Vegas has postponed their live annual poker tournament series from June until the fall 2020.

In the meantime, WSOP is doing something most other sports cannot.

They are having their normal summer tournaments aired entirely online as a bonus offering.

These events are taking place daily from July 1- July 31 at WSOP.COM.

Traditional WSOP gold bracelets will go to all winners.

Competitors must be present in Nevada to play in the online series.