More than seven months after temporarily closing, the Borgata poker room is set to finally reopen on Wednesday. It will become the first Atlantic City card room to return to action since COVID-19.
Atlantic City is one of the top spots to play poker in the US. The New Jersey gambling town boasts five poker rooms, with Harrah’s having the largest (40 tables).
The live poker scene has been absent since mid-March when Gov. Phil Murphy (D) required all casinos to close due to the coronavirus. In New Jersey, COVID-19 has been a major problem, with 16,339 reported deaths from the virus, the fourth-most in the country behind neighboring New York (33,491), Texas (17,582), and California (16,979).
Casinos were permitted to reopen during the Fourth of July weekend, but without live poker. With Pennsylvania card rooms still closed, New Jersey residents don’t have many live poker options nearby. That’s about to change, thanks to the Borgata’s return on Wednesday.
Borgata Back in Action
With 77 tables, the Borgata has one of the largest poker rooms in the United States (Commerce Casino in Los Angeles is the biggest card room at 200 tables). When the popular NJ poker spot returns to action this week, that number will be down to 30.
The decline in card tables is due to decreased demand, along with state guidelines requiring that tables be spread out. Social distancing measures will be in place as much as possible. That includes fewer tables than normal, and games limited to seven players maximum per table.
When the poker room reopens at 10 am on Wednesday, only cash games will be spread. For the time being, the casino won’t offer tournaments, and no date has been set for when Borgata will bring them back.
Borgata is also required to separate players to help limit the spread of COVID-19. To accomplish that goal, the poker tables will all have polycarbonate dividers between each player and the dealer. Face masks are required at all times while in the casino, including during play at the poker tables.
Players can order beverages at the poker table, but eating food is prohibited. The poker room won’t allow players to bring a friend with them who isn’t playing, as spectators are barred from entering the room.
Borgata, an MGM Resorts-owned property, is currently the only Atlantic City poker room scheduled to reopen this week. No date has been set for the other card rooms in town — Harrah’s, WSOP Poker Room at Bally’s, Golden Nugget, and Tropicana.