Clark County approved new COVID-19 guidelines that should make the 2021 WSOP feel normal, even though it’s taking place in the fall instead of in its usual summer slot.
The 2021 World Series of Poker is set to begin on Sept. 30 at the Rio in Las Vegas. We’re still awaiting the full schedule, but the Main Event will begin Nov. 4, and the opening weekend will feature a $5 million guaranteed bracelet event dubbed “The Reunion.”
Full details for the series will be released by the WSOP in the coming weeks. Plans can’t be finalized until Clark County and the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) eliminate all or most COVID-19 restrictions. The WSOP attracts thousands of players and fans, all packed inside the sizable, but crowded Rio convention center.
At present, businesses in Nevada are limited to 50% of the maximum capacity. That won’t fly for the WSOP, which relies on massive crowds. The good news is, those restrictions are on pace to be lifted in time for poker’s greatest annual festival.
Light at the end of the tunnel for poker community
Governor Steve Sisolak is turning over COVID-19 decisions to local governments starting on May 1. In Nye County, just outside of Las Vegas, all restrictions will be lifted on that date. But that doesn’t impact Las Vegas, the largest city in Nevada, located in neighboring Clark County.
There is, however, some positive news on the horizon for poker players in the area. Clark County recently announced that it will expand capacity restrictions to 80% on May 1. That still isn’t good enough for WSOP normalcy, however.
Nevada’s largest county on Tuesday approved a plan to return to full capacity, with no social distancing requirements, as soon as 60% of county residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Assuming enough locals get vaccinated by Sept. 30, there won’t be any issues with the Rio convention center being packed to the gills. The only exception would be if the GCB overrules the county, which they have the right to do.
As of Monday, about 43% of residents aged 16 and up had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Southern Nevada Health Department Health Officer Dr. Fermin Leguen told the Las Vegas Sun the expectation is for the county to reach the 60% threshold by June 1, nearly four months before the World Series of Poker begins.
Casinos and poker rooms aren’t the only businesses on the verge of returning to normalcy in Las Vegas. Many of the famous buffets on the Las Vegas Strip are set to reopen for the first time since the pandemic struck in March 2020. And the many strip clubs in town can finally go back to providing the adult entertainment services they’ve offered for years.