Not surprisingly, all Nevada casinos were ordered closed more than two months ago, turning the Las Vegas strip into a wide, empty road. But many states are beginning to re-open, at least in part and with strict CDC guidelines to follow. Nevada’s governor, Steve Sisolak, has begun permitting casino restaurants to reopen while keeping clubs, shows and gaming shut down. And let’s face it: you all don’t go to Vegas for the restaurants!
The Nevada Gaming Control Board recently laid out its health/safety guidelines for casinos to follow when they reopen. One guideline that poker players have already been reluctantly anticipating is that poker rooms must limit poker tables to a maximum of four players.
But there is more. UNLV epidemiologist, Brian Labus, has said that Vegas is not ready to open the casinos. And when they do, he says, he’s worried that many of the planned safety features won’t be a match for the virus. Limiting card room capacity, adding hand sanitizer stations, and aggressive cleaning of poker chips and chairs can help reduce some risk, Labus says, but the nature of coronavirus won’t allow it to be contained. Players sit together for an extended period of time, coughing and breathing in the same shared air, and there’s nothing you can do about that.
Labus also didn’t think the new plexiglass dividers that some poker rooms around the country are trying out, would be effective from a public health standpoint, beyond giving players an artificial sense of security.
When the Vegas strip opens, there will be a limited amount of casinos to visit for slots, roulette etc. and even fewer poker rooms, if any. So if you want to play poker in the foreseeable future, Stay Home. You’re either going to be playing online or, after sanitizing everything and making sure no one has a fever, you and a few socially-distanced friends will be playing at your own poker table.