British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken and casinos in England will reopen this month. Grosvenor, Aspers, and London’s Hippodrome Casino have provided an outline of what poker players can expect when they ante up.
Poker rooms in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland have been closed, more or less, since November. Each country has its own COVID-19 laws, but the coming weeks will see restrictions easing across the UK.
England will get out of the gate first with the hospitality sector set to reopen on May 17. That means the sound of riffling chips will return next week, albeit with a few precautions in place.
All forms of poker returning
Grosvenor Casinos is ready for the easing of restrictions. The owner of 53 casinos in the UK has announced that 31 of its clubs in England will reopen on Monday.
All of them will offer cash games from the jump, and tournaments will be running at eight Grosvenor poker rooms. The company will also be running a £300,000 “Big Reunion” promotion for all patrons.
Tourneys are back
Grosvenor Casinos will host poker tournaments in the following venues:
- The Vic London
- Grosvenor Luton
- Grosvenor Walsall
- Grosvenor Leeds
- Grosvenor Coventry
- Grosvenor Portsmouth
- Grosvenor Birmingham Hill Street
- Grosvenor Bury New Road Manchester
That’s an improvement on the UK’s live poker scene in 2020. CardsChat took a look inside London’s Empire Casino when restrictions allowed and found that cash games were oversubscribed. Despite a clear demand for the freedom to play, venues were bound up in red tape. Necessary or not, the COVID restrictions meant the tournament poker was impossible last year.
Things will be different this time around. The number of COVID-19 infections in the UK is approaching its lowest levels since March 2020.
The average number of deaths is extremely low, with Monday this week showing none within 28 days of a positive COVID test. This, combined with over 53% of the nation having at least one COVID shot, means restrictions won’t be as severe when games resume.
Poker is back if not quite normal
Although things are almost back to normal, players will still face some restrictions. Everyone will be required to wear a facemask and there will be plexiglass dividers on every table. Games will run seven-handed and there may not be as many active tables as usual. This is to allow for social distancing rules and reduced staffing levels.
Finally, pre-registration is recommended, but not necessary. Players simply have to arrive early enough to get a seat or join a waiting list.
♠️ ♦️ Grosvenor Poker Announcement❗♥️ ♣️ pic.twitter.com/XIxDEcXIW2
— Grosvenor Poker (@GrosvenorPoker) May 7, 2021
Grosvenor isn’t the only operator opening its poker rooms. The Hippodrome in London will also reopen on May 17, along with Aspers’ network of casinos. Like at Grosvenor, facemasks and partitions will be in place at these venues, as will player caps and social distancing measures.
Although it won’t be poker as normal, it will be very close to it. Casinos in England and the rest of the UK are gradually getting back to business and, all being well, the final series of restrictions will be lifted on June 21. So, for British poker players, at least, it should be a summer of unrestricted live action across the country.