Roughly two months after poker rooms across the country shut their doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are signs that some live poker operators are ready to back to business.
UPDATE: Just hours after the publication of this article, agents from the California Department of Justice raided the Towers Casino and Card Room and shut it back down on the premise that the card room opened prematurely. Poker patron Matthew Boyle captured the moment on video and posted it to his Instagram feed.
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On Monday, The Towers Casino and Card Room in Grass Valley, California became one of very first to re-open their business to live poker players.
“After 62 days of closure, Towers Card Room is open again!! We’re following the strictest environmental health guidelines to endure the safety and welfare of our employees and patrons,” a post on the Towers Casino Facebook page reads.
As a part of those health guidelines, Towers states that they will be implementing “rigorous disinfecting”, player reservations to keep the number of people waiting for a seat to a minimum, and “stringent sanitizing of chips/cards” both before and after they are used.
Photos taken of the running game shows players sitting in a nine-handed game with the dealer and players wearing masks or bandanas to shield their faces.
The Towers Casino & Card Room will also be implementing a smaller number of players allowed inside at any given time, no communal food or drinks, and “social distancing measures at the tables.”
One of the larger poker rooms in the country will soon follow suit. The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room, which shut their doors back on March 20, has announced that they will be re-opening their doors to the public on Thursday, May 21st at 7 p.m. ET.
The SHRT poker room will only utilize half of their 46 total tables and every game will be a maximum of six-handed. The poker room will also be one of the first to implement plexiglass dividers that will shield players from each other while leaving an opening for the handling of cards and chips.
Poker is BACK this Thursday, May 21st @ 7pm! As we prepare to welcome you back, we have made essential updates to our operations including the intro of the SAFE & SOUND program that helps to keep our guests and team members safe. Visit https://t.co/bUvbb9i9FV for more details! pic.twitter.com/oXR6BL3zLI
— SHRT Poker (@SHRTPoker) May 19, 2020
As with the Towers, SHRT will also require face coverings for all guests and employees, implement the cleaning of chips and cards, and provide call-in reservations for players to minimize the number of people waiting to get into a game.
Florida’s bestbet also has imminent plans to re-open both of their poker rooms in Jacksonville and Orange Park. Both will let the poker playing public back into their facilities on Friday, May 22 at 10:00 a.m.
In addition to masks and sanitization, the bestbet Jacksonville safety guidelines indicate that all people entering the building will have “non-invasive” temperature screenings as well.
Even with safety precautions put in place, for many the return to live poker with no real solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic is happening too quickly.
When live poker returns, how likely are you to play?
— Tony Burns (@MDTonyB) May 17, 2020