The Bellagio and Caesars Palace, which were the first of MGM Resorts and Caesars International properties to reopen on June 4, reopened their poker rooms two weeks later on Thursday, June 18 at 10 a.m.
They’re not the first casinos to reopen their poker rooms, however, trailing behind The Golden Nugget, The Orleans, The Venetian, the South Point, and Sahara Las Vegas, who reopened its poker room on the same day.
Per guidelines provided by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, poker games are limited to five players per table. Bellagio received approval for six-handed tables. Plexiglass dividers will be placed in between players in compliance with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. While masks on players are not required, at least not yet, they are being strongly encouraged. Masks on dealers and other Bellagio casino personnel are mandatory.
According to the official press release, The Bellagio poker room will be open daily, 24 hours a day, all throughout the week. The poker room will host cash games only initially, with no tournaments allowed at the current time. Players will not be allowed to eat in the room, and no guests or spectators will be allowed in.
According to a Caesars spokesperson, the Caesars Palace poker room will use five-handed tables, and all players will be required to wear masks. The hours of operations are from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Thursday through Sunday.
Bellagio’s poker room is one of the premier poker rooms in all of Vegas. Its high-stakes room is known as “Bobby’s Room,” named after former MGM Resorts International executive Bobby Baldwin, who was the 1978 World Series of Poker champ. Baldwin also regularly hosts big poker tournaments throughout the world.
The largest poker room in the world also reopens today at 6 p.m. It’s located inside of the Commerce Casino, which is located just outside of Los Angeles. Games here will be played eight-handed, and players are required to wear masks with plexiglass barriers to divide players safely.
World Series of Poker Online Starts in July
In-person poker is coming back slowly but surely in the gambling mecca of the world, but another major poker event is getting the green light to start in July; that’s the World Series of Poker.
While it won’t be an in-person event this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, it will be a major online event featuring players from the U.S. and all over the world, with 85 gold bracelet events. Each day in July, a bracelet will be awarded on WSOP.com.
Before the outbreak happened, the WSOP was scheduled to run from May 26 to July 15 at the Rio Convention Center but has since been reworked to be an exclusively online event, much like other major events held this year.
Daniel Negreanu, six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, said turning WSOP into an online event to make the show go on was a classic case of the event “making the best of it.”
Negreanu, who is a Las Vegas resident, says he plans to play in the online tournament until July 19, when the GG Poker tournament, who he is an ambassador for, begins.
The buy-ins for the U.S. online WSOP range from $400 to $3,200.
Bellagio’s Supper Club Shut Down After Workers Tests Positive for COVID-19
Bellagio’s Mayfair Supper Club, which functions as a part-dining, part-entertainment venue, was one of the first live entertainment venues to reopen in the valley.
However, after one of its kitchen staff tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, it was forced to temporarily close its doors on Wednesday, with a reopening date to be determined. According to a MGM Resorts spokesperson, the employee found out about the positive coronavirus result after coming into work on Wednesday.
Prior to that, the employee’s last working day was on Sunday. Staff who were in direct contact with the employee were notified of the positive test result.
In a statement released to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Mayfair Supper Club announced that due to an abundance of caution, that they would be closing for the evening, fully sanitizing the work area, and determining who may have come into direct contact with the infected individual.
Nevada Gaming Control Board Updates its Health and Safety Protocols
On Wednesday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board made updates on its health and safety protocols for casinos, tightening up previously released guidelines for gamblers who wish to sit and play. It includes stronger language in the encouragement of patrons to wear face masks while inside of casinos.
For casinos that have no plexiglass barriers at table games, gamblers are required to wear face coverings. That requirement applies to table and card players, spectators, and any other individual who is within six feet of table or card games.
As of now, patrons are not required to wear face masks while inside of the dining establishments inside of casinos.
Requirements for face masks are more stringent for casino staff, without outright mandating them for guests. Properties must now offer all guests with a face covering when they enter into the casino or have “dedicated signage” alerting patrons to the availability of the personal protective equipment (PPE) and recommended its usage.
Should any patron ask for a mask, it must be provided by a staff member.
Changes Come As People Ease Up on Mask Use
These new changes come as COVID-19 cases across the state have been on steadily increasing, and state officials recognizing the seemingly relaxed attitude toward people wearing them as the reopenings come.
Gaming Control Board Chair Sandra Douglass Morgan, for one, has noticed that people seem to be easing up on mask use, despite the growing evidence that mask usage can prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
Morgan urges people to continue to act responsibly in the age of the coronavirus, especially, not in spite of, restrictions being lifted across the state. She said that if individuals want to be able to come back to Vegas in three or six months or the next year even, they need to be responsible by respecting and following the important guidelines that have been put into place for everyone’s ultimate safety.
Policies for Closed Events Have Also Been Updated
The Gaming Control Board also outlined a policy for guidelines pertaining to closed events at gaming properties on Wednesday as well. The closed events policy applies to any live event that would normally have an in-person audience, including concerts, entertainment shows, competition shows, or sporting events.
In order to be able to hold a closed event, the Event Operator is to submit an Operation Plan to the Nevada Gaming Control Board within at least 14 days leading up to the planned event date, to adequately allow the Control Board to review the Operation Plan.
The Operation Plan is to detail the specific steps the Event Operators will follow and comply with, a floor plan or diagram of the Event venue, Event personnel details, such as the number of personnel involved, the function of personnel members, details on internal systems being used for the Event, and an overview of sanitation procedures.
Event Operators are to consider all applicable Federal, state, and local social distancing guidelines, such as the capacity limits of public gatherings, and the spacing of individual personnel and Event performers per social distancing guidelines.
Current COVID-19 Trends in Nevada
Casinos were allowed to reopen in Phase 2 of Nevada’s phased reopening plan, per Gov. Steve Sisolak’s orders. The state was deemed ready to reopen based on the steady, downward trajectory trend of COVID-19 positive cases and the number of hospitalizations.
Now, the state continues to monitor the influx of coronavirus cases as casinos, restaurants, and other businesses have reopened.
Currently, the Silver State crossed 12,000 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, reporting 234 new cases as of Wednesday, marking a 2 percent single-day growth rate out of a batch of 3,767 Now, the state has 12,076 cases it reports.
It’s unsure whether the slight uptick of cases is a result of casinos reopening, the George Floyd protests that occurred throughout the Strip and Downtown LV which saw many protestors shoulder-to-shoulder, or a combination of both.
Pools at many resorts have also reopened, with many day pools being packed on the two weekends following casinos reopening.
We will have to continue to wait and see where the majority of these new cases are being reported out of.
On Governor Sisolak’s Monday address to the state, he announced that Nevada would stay in Phase 2 at least until the end of the month. He expressed disdain in the fact that many Nevadans were not wearing face coverings while out in public, and that being a major cause for concern and reason for pushing back Phase 3 of his reopening plan.
While we’re thrilled that casinos in the state and across the country (for the most part) have been given the green light to reopen amid the pandemic, we hope that the number of COVID-19 begins to decrease soon.
Have you been to Las Vegas since its reopened? Are you a local who’s been back into town since the reopenings keep trickling in? And will you be playing at one of the reopened poker rooms soon?
Recently, the Sahara Las Vegas announced its new reservation system for table games, the first-of-its-kind in the city in response to COVID-19 protocols, as well as the reopening of its poker room.
Be sure to check back for more coverage regarding Las Vegas reopening news.