Casinos in the Czech Republic have been forced to close again, just three days after the WSOP Main Event took place at King’s Resort.
Another spike in COVID-19 cases prompted Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš to close all non-essential businesses over the festive period.
The new lockdown rules go into effect today, which means King’s Resort closed again, barely two weeks after reopening.
Another Temporary Lockdown for King’s Resort
It’s unclear how long the casino will be closed for; a message on Twitter describes it as a temporary measure but, from what we know already, that could mean months of inactivity.
⚠️ King's Resort temporarily closed ⚠️
King’s Resort has to close temporarily due to corona pandemic regulations of the Czech government.
Stay tuned – We'll keep you updated! pic.twitter.com/6YkCtlZpzk
— King's Resort (@PokerroomKings) December 17, 2020
King’s Resort was one of the first European casinos to reopen after the pandemic struck back in March. An initial period of facemasks and social distancing soon made way for what could be called “normal” operations.
The return of cash games and tournaments was followed by scenes of players without masks. That period of limited restrictions lasted throughout the summer until government orders started another series of lockdowns in October.
It was initially thought that closure would last for two weeks. However, the goalposts were moved multiple times at the last minute. Eventually, King’s Resort was allowed to reopen on Dec. 4, just in time for the international leg of the WSOP Main Event.
That took place on Dec. 15 and, it seems, not a moment too soon. Poker reporter Barry Carter believes the final table could have taken place anyway because it would have been deemed a televised sporting event.
Fellow reporter Christian Zetzsche confirmed this was likely the case as King’s Resort had already limited tables to four players. By enforcing the use of facemasks at the final table and running it like a TV show, the organizers were able to stay on the right side of current safety guidelines.
This may have been the reason for a lack of live streaming coverage. Some players have criticized the WSOP for not showing the international final table. However, given the restrictions and protocols in place, it may have been difficult to run a live stream.
Turbulent Times with No End in Sight
For King’s Resort, the next few weeks will be quiet. That may be seen as par for the course in 2020, but it calls into question how much longer these restrictions can continue.
We know that casinos in England have been losing upwards of $13 million each month they’ve been forced to close. The seemingly never-ending cycle of going into and coming out of lockdowns also calls into question the strategy itself.
The World Health Organization has said that lockdowns should be a “last resort.” What’s more, they don’t appear to have a positive long-term impact on infection rates.
To borrow a phrase from author and journalist Peter Hitchens, it’s like trying to stick leaves back on the trees in fall. As soon as lockdowns come to an end, infections increase again.
Therefore, far from preventing them, respiratory expert Dr. Michael Yeadon has said lockdowns simply spread infections over a longer period of time. That’s something the Czech government and other European powers will have to consider going forward.
King’s Resort is one of the largest casinos in the region. That should help it survive the latest shutdown.
However, there are venues in the UK that have already downsized or closed for good. As long as the current cycle continues, casinos across Europe are at risk of suffering the same fate.