Two Florida poker rooms are set to reopen within the next few days, but players should be prepared for a different experience than what they’re accustomed to.
The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa and Bestbet Jacksonville are ready to roll the dice on reopening. Both will begin accepting customers, including poker players, as early as Thursday. Seminole announced a Thursday reopening date, while Bestbet will do the same on Friday.
Bestbet Jacksonville is home to the popular annual WPT Bestbet Bounty Scramble tournament. The massive card room features 70 poker tables. Seminole Hard Rock, also one of the largest Florida poker rooms, has 46 card tables.
Florida Poker Rooms Taking a Gamble
There is risk involved with opening a casino during a global health pandemic. In Florida, there are more than 46,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,000 deaths. But a couple of cardrooms are ready to bring their players back to the felt.
The game of poker, however, will look a bit different, at least for the time being. According to Bestbet’s Twitter page, all guests entering the casino will be required to wear a protective face mask.
“We will be practicing social distancing guidelines through our facility,” read a Bestbet Twitter statement. The casino hasn’t publicly released the specifics of those guidelines.
At Tampa’s Hard Rock, plexiglass dividers will be used at the tables for social distancing purposes. Temperatures will be checked upon entrance to the casino. Anyone showing a temp above CDC guidelines, including employees, will be asked to leave.
Hard Rock poker players and all other casino patrons will also be required to wear protective face masks. The casino said on social media that hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the facility.
Additional Poker Rooms in the US Reopening Soon
It may be months, or even more than a year, before live poker in the US returns to its pre-coronavirus state. But a few cardrooms are slowly beginning to reopen around the country.
In San Diego, California, Jamul Casino opened its doors to select customers on Monday, but will have a full reopening on May 21. Jamul, home to one of the smaller cardrooms in Southern California, has 10 poker tables.
The Lodge, a card club near Austin, Texas, was also scheduled to reopen on Monday.