Get ready to shoot some craps or chase a progressive jackpot at your favorite Las Vegas casinos. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak finally released a tentative date — June 4 — for casinos in the Silver State to reopen. But don’t expect to find many places to play poker and be prepared for many properties to remain closed.
Most, and possibly all, of the 31 card rooms in Sin City won’t reopen any time soon. The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) recently released health safety restrictions that poker rooms must follow. Among the guidelines, poker tables won’t be permitted to seat more than four players at a time. Interest in four-handed poker is light, which means the casinos, or at least most of them, aren’t likely to spread poker games until the NGCB relaxes the restrictions.
Station Casinos and Wynn have already announced they won’t be reopening their poker rooms along with the casinos. MGM Resorts, which operates six card rooms in town, is also reportedly keeping poker on the sidelines for now.
Which Las Vegas Casinos Will Soon Reopen?
Many Las Vegas casinos will still remain closed when Gov. Sisolak grants them permission to reopen. Sisolak said in his Friday public address that he anticipates advancing to Phase 2 of his statewide reopening plan on June 4. Gambling establishments are among the businesses permitted to reopen during Phase 2.
The June 4 date is tentative, however. If Nevada’s COVID-19 cases spike over the next two weeks, Sisolak could decide to hold off on the Phase 2 plans.
Assuming all goes well and the governor permits the casinos to reopen, gamblers should be aware that some of their favorite places to play won’t be ready to throw open their doors. Caesars Entertainment recently announced that it will phase in each property, beginning with Caesars Palace (high end) and the Flamingo (low end).
Harrah’s and The LINQ, two additional Las Vegas Strip properties, will be next in line. Bally’s, The Cromwell, Paris, and the Rio (home to the World Series of Poker) will come next.
MGM Resorts, which owns 13 Las Vegas casinos, is also expected to phase in its properties. Wynn, Venetian, and Treasure Island are all expected to reopen on or soon after the governor grants them permission to do so.
Changes to the Gambling Experience
When the casinos reopen, gamblers will experience some major changes due to COVID-19. They include a limit on how many players can sit down at each table game. Only six players will be permitted to sit around a craps table, three per blackjack game, and four at roulette. If any poker rooms decide to give it a try, they’ll be required to play four-handed games, at a maximum.
Additionally, each property has its own plan to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. That includes using thermal imagine cameras at the entrance of Venetian and Wynn to detect guests with high temperatures. Dealers and staff members who interact with the public will be required to wear face masks.
All Las Vegas casinos will offer hand sanitizer stations for gamblers and hotel guests. The NGCB is also requiring surfaces, such as slot machines, to be disinfected regularly.
Las Vegas casinos will also appear emptier than normal. That’s because the NGCB is only permitting the casinos to reach a maximum of 50% occupancy at any given time. So, until COVID-19 is extinguished, the days of jam-packed casino floors and clubs on weekend nights are gone.